Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Petrified Wood


There is an amazing amount of Petrified Wood that can be found on this property. I was excited about the tiny pieces I took a photo of for this blog earlier last week but then we found the piles of Petrified Wood Priscilla and Frank have all around the outside of their house, including whole logs of it here and there. Supposedly there are much larger pieces just an hour up the road at the Petrified Forest National Park. Paul and I will have to take a trip out there one of these days.

Petrified Wood is actually a kind of fossil. The actual "wood", the organic material, is prehistoric and long gone, having been replaced with various minerals after the trees themselves were buried under the ground in some long ago flood. The pieces we find on the property here, though, retain the appearance of wood on the outside. You can see the bark but it's hard to the touch instead of soft as actual bark would be. You can't scrape it away with your fingernail. In fact, it's extremely hard to cut with stone cutting tools.

I've been carrying three small pieces in my coat pocket. I don't find myself "attracted" to it in any way but I'm loathe to give them away. I like holding them in my hand and find them soothing to touch. A site I found on the internet suggests that Petrified Wood is useful for grounding and emotional stability. It encourages a practical mindset and is supposed to infer a feeling of physical protection and financial success.

Paul and I are gearing up for our first trip to Flagstaff and Sedona early in the year, probably leaving here January 2nd or 3rd. We hope to find spiritually-oriented spas to work with. There are many such places in Sedona it appears. I'm also planning to bring my Mama Love perfume so I'm prepared should we find appropriate gift shops or stores selling tools for natural healing. I find it interesting that the Petrified Wood and Juniper berries that we're surrounded by here both are thought to have healing purposes in regards to physical well-being and protection. The native peoples in the Southwest sometimes carried Juniper berries in their medicine bags when they went on a challenging trip. We feel challenged by what we're taking on right now, to say the least. I have Juniper berries along with my Petrified Wood in my pockets now, too.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Power On

This photo, taken by Paul, is of the solar pumphouse on the property we're living on. Priscilla and Frank live off the grid by necessity, not so much by choice. They have their own well, pump their own water and make their own electricity by day. They run a generator to take care of their electrical needs at night. It takes constant vigilance when the weather turns cold to keep the water from freezing and a real awareness of the power they use all year round.

When we housesat while Priscilla and Frank were out of town we got a taste of what living this way is all about. And we did alright until the night it rained and snowed, the inverter stopped charging the batteries properly, the water pump froze and everything came to a screeching halt. No water, no electricity....grumble, groan. Paul managed to troubleshoot the electrical problem enough to hook up a temporary solution to get the power working again. Then he used that power to run a blow dryer to get the pump unfrozen. Took half a day and a lot of frustration...but it sure felt satisfying when we were done. We saw the move "Castaway" with Tom Hanks on satellite TV later in the week. In the scene where Hanks dances on the beach yelling "I made fire!" we understood completely how he must have felt.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Guidance

Was sharing an email correspondence today with another psychic/artist/healer. We've been sharing mutual support over the internet for our changing lives.

She mentioned that she, like so many of us these days, feels "pressed down", like everything needs to be scaled back just to the deep essentials. There's a feeling of not being able to do what you want to do right now but my guides say it isn't so. It's fear talking and that's what they want the world to know.

"This isn't the time to play the game of putting your head in the sand. Obviously something's up in the world economy and something significant is being changed. But neither is it time to throw away your most cherished hopes and dreams. It's not time to come out begging either. It's time to pitch in, see what the world needs most, and commit to it. It's time to throw away things that don't work. Time to make the world whole."

"You all have what it takes to play this game. But you need to be told the truth. The world isn't a playground for the rich to pillage and plunder. You haven't been duped; you've seen it unfolding right in front of you. Today it comes crashing down. So be it."

"Let healing happen. Visualize it happening. Intend it happening. Demand it."

"It changes everything and the world becomes better and brighter for everyone and the creatures, fish, plants and trees -- the whole world and everything in it --is helped as well."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tracks


Walking west away from Priscilla and Frank's house we expect to be able to see the rooftop when we look back. That works for awhile then the land shifts a bit and the roof disappears behind the trees. We take a walking stick with us to draw arrows in the sand. "This way home."

The arrows disappear from sight before we've walked a few feet. They're hidden by tufts of desert grass. So far we've succeeded in finding them well enough...but strong hints are being made that we're going to receive a compass for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Desert Light


The earth here is the color of terra cotta. And now, driving on the dirt roads, our Jeep is the color of terra cotta, too. The Indians just scooped the clay here from the earth and baked their pots in the hot sun. In the late afternoon light the red clay deepens in intensity and the yellow desert grasses glow.

It's beautiful and incredibly peaceful when I'm not stuck in negative thinking and fear. Nothing has prepared us for what we have found out here. Everything is unfamiliar but we've been guided to think this is not the end of the journey we're on in coming out here, only the beginning. My guides say that we're in process of changing into something we need to know. They try to remind us that all is well. That even in the desert God's bounty is abundant. They say the desert is here to teach the world to pay attention to the gifts in every rock and tree. It's easy to miss the beauty in the small details of life when the senses are overstimulated by excess. And today the world, the balance tipped toward financial crisis and fear, needs to remember the importance of every gift we receive.

We're surrounded by junipers in this strange world we inhabit now. Those are juniper trees in the photo accompanying this blog. I felt compelled to research the uses of juniper trees on the internet and I feel compelled to make use of it. Today I discovered a site that said juniper berry essential oil was an invaluable ingredient in emotional, gastro-intestinal, and overall detoxification. It clears the mind and helps heal people who are exposed to emotionally toxic or draining people and life situations. It's especially uplifting for people coping with great emotional challenges and upheaval. Sounds perfect for what so many of us are going through these days.

We're going through an enforced period of emotional and physical detox in the world today. The financial excesses of greed and intoxication are being forcibly swept away. People who thought they could depend on their 401Ks might need to rely on family and friends instead. And on community, real community, not just the social comfort of shared interests, shared politics, shared beliefs but the community that comes from reaching out past presumed differences to heal our greatest common concerns.

As I said before, when Paul and I walk in the desert we can't take our eyes off the ground. Why? We're afraid we'll miss something precious and unusual.

In our lives back in Santa Cruz there were rocks and landscapes equally amazing and beautiful. We noticed the oceans, the mountains, the larger vistas...and yet we rarely if ever noticed the tiny stones beneath our feet.

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Juniper oil is now a featured addition to my Mama Love for Troubled Times body, bath and massage oil. Check it out!

Discovery


Paul found an ancient Native American pottery fragment walking along a dry river bed, a wash that runs through Priscilla and Frank's property in the "monsoon" season. We both have been finding lots of petrified wood pieces. Rare items in other parts of the world. Rare items for us to see. Now neither one of can keep our eyes off the ground. We have to tear ourselves away to remember where we are.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Solstice Evergreen

Years ago when this book came out it was labeled "the definitive book" on the origin of the Christmas Tree...yet for a long time now, every year at this time of year, I forget to promote it!

I guess I feel like I've moved on to many other interests... but it's certainly still relevant.

I've always had a fascination with the spiritual significance of plants and trees (and everything else). The research I did for this book pretty much cemented that curiosity for life. The more I found out, the more I wanted to know. At the time I wrote this book I knew nothing about the healing significance of evergreen plants. Now the healing and spiritual uses of flowering plants are a big part of what I do as a flower essence practitioner and healing perfume designer. Many evergreen plants are associated with Christmas -- I use several of them in my Peace and Goodwill perfume.

I just unpacked my Solstice Evergreen books and, if you act soon, I can autograph them and send them out in time for you to receive one in time for Christmas. Here's an excerpt from the introduction I hope you find interesting and here's a link to one of my favorite stories (also from the book).

FYI: The book features my artwork on the cover. On request, I'll infuse it with Reiki for you or the intended recipient at no extra charge. :-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Juniper Berries


Juniper berries are more than abundant here. This picture wasn't taken in the snow but it looks that way. The "big, scary storm" scheduled to hit hours ago hasn't arrived yet. Priscilla and Frank just left to go to a Christmas party. They're not worried about the storm at all.
Paul and I feel like such California wimps!

We Have Both Kinds of Music Here

Country AND Western.

Still reeling from culture shock and still coping with simple tasks of day to day living. Notice no photos up on our blogs. Dial-up with a 28k modem (most of the time) is just too slow.

We got snow and mud tires today. Discovered that our wimpy city slicker tires were just ridiculous when it rained and the dirt roads out here turned to mud. We also discovered that our Jeep Grand Cherokee -- a vehicle we think is HUGE -- is just a "cute little Jeep" out here. People have economy cars...but they're not too common. Luckily, gas is $1.49/gallon. I don't remember the last time I saw a price that low.

Paul gets a kick out of some of the songs we've heard on the radio. His favorite is one where the lyrics go something like "I'm not like the other guys. I want to take you out to the sticks, walk with you through a wildflower field, and then check your body for ticks!"

We hear mostly anthems to cowboy and farmer life. "My grandpappy lived here all his life but I moved away. Now I have a wife and kids and I'm back on the farm to stay."

Not as many "he done me wrong" songs as we expected to hear but I heard one sung by a woman that made me laugh: "I hate your stupid pick-up truck that you wouldn't let me drive anyway. The only good you are to me right now is as a photo to burn and throw away."

We don't know whether to laugh or cry sometimes. We wanted to go to Sedona and start checking out retreat centers and spas where we might bring our work this week but a set of winter storms is blowing in. They expect more than a foot of snow up in the hills, not sure what we'll get here but the weather reports on the radio include the warning: "Do not drive! If you have to drive bring extra blankets, a cell phone, extra batteries and drive really slow. If you don't have to drive, stay off the roads!"

Welcome to country life.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Abundant Prosperity and a Healthier New Year

Oh, the trouble in the news these days. I can hardly stand to watch. Rising unemployment (up to 10% in parts of Arizona), record foreclosures, businesses failing. But is it ALL the news that's fit to "print" or report about? Depends on where you sit.

According to recent statistics, 10% unemployment in some locations looks really bad. That does, however, mean that 90% of the population or more IS employed. Mervyn's closed its doors. "Wow! That's bad!" But had you been in a Mervyn's in the last few years? They were on the brink anyway. Record numbers of people who were given a chance to "afford" a home they never would have been given a home loan for before losing those homes to foreclosure looks really rough. Never having been in a position to afford to own a home on my own before, I'm not sure how to think about this myself. And guess what? Falling home costs (back to where they were not that long ago -- before greedy real estate investing ran amuck but still when things were healthy enough) now makes home ownership a more healthy reality for thousands of people who haven't been able to think about buying a home for a long time. Home sales are up! In some places, like Arizona, they're selling at record rates.

I'm not trying to make light of this situation. Some people's fortunes have fallen, many people are hurting in terms of their 401Ks. Almost everyone has been frightened into tightening their belts and reassessing their financial choices. And a lot of us are looking for opportunities and new ways to make ends meet.

Today, I'm writing this from the high desert of Arizona, a place I never thought I'd associate with "prosperity" in any way. And it certainly isn't the most luxurious spot on the planet in terms of worldly possessions, flash and glitz.

But I've been thinking about what does survive out here and what it takes. The place is hopping with rabbits! Lots of small cottontail bunnies and a very large jack rabbit with long ears that Priscilla and Frank have named Harvey. I've written in numerous other blogs that rabbits are a symbol of prosperity. What are they doing in the desert? Having a very good life it would seem!

Living in the desert takes a certain amount of grit and determination. You can't survive without it. But there are plants that thrive out here. Junipers, cedars, cactus. Numerous desert plants I'm going to have to learn more about. I only use a few desert plants in the flower essence perfumes I make but I realized that the only one I used on purpose happens to be in my Abundant Prosperity perfume. It's called the California Peony and it's used to help release stuck energy in the area of personal safety so that true recognition of the abundance and prosperity we share with the world all the time can come forward.

It's hard to feel prosperous when you're feeling scared. Abundant Prosperity perfume was formulated specifically to address this issue. It contains Lemon essential oil and Zinnia flower essence, both known for their ability to promote feelings of light-heartedness and joy. Think of bunny rabbits hopping about and playing. Happy to be alive and joyful. That's the kind of prosperity this is all about.

But I also add to that Iris flower essence for increased creative inspiration (you need that when the tired and no longer "true" approaches to making money let you down) and Madia flower essence for disciplined focus. This isn't just a pie in the sky (just think happy thoughts) approach to making a healthy happy life. It's about thinking big and having the focussed attention to follow through.

Shameless self promotion: Buy some Abundant Prosperity for Christmas! Peace and Goodwill, too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Finding "Home" in the Desert?

Well, we've arrived! And what a strange arrival it's been.

First, imagine our surprise to find ourselves 30 miles away from the nearest town--tiny tiny Republican Mormon Snowflake. Most people are nice to us but for a couple of New Age spiritual counselors with pretty liberal Democrat ideals, it's a strange feeling indeed. I wanted to run away screaming before we even unpacked but today something even stranger happened.

Paul and I went for a walk after breakfast. This time we brought a whistle, our cell phone and a walking stick to draw easy to follow tracks to find our way back with. The first time we went for a "walk" we walked and walked for miles, completely lost, and Paul's mother honked her car horn and called to us through a megaphone to help us find our way back when it became dark and it became clear to them that we must be having trouble finding our way home.

Well, you know, all those juniper trees look alike, the unmaintained county roads can't always even be found on a map, and there are very few sight lines to navigate with. Newcomers get lost here all the time. It's kind of an expected thing.

Oh yeah, the strange thing. After days of thinking "oh my God, what have we done? We HAVE to get out of here!" we went for another walk and it was so QUIET and peaceful and beautiful I found myself exclaiming "I LOVE it here!" I wish I had photos to put up. We've been taking them but I need to drive several miles to use a decent internet connection and forgot to download them to the computer.

We're both quite confused about this. We felt certain when we first arrived that we needed to leave as soon as humanly possible. Maybe we still will...we feel we need to be shouting distance to some population base that can support our work...

But it is SO peaceful here. A person just slows down breathing the air (which is crisp and clear for miles around).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Moving Delayed


A mistake was made at U-Haul and our rental truck isn't going to be available until Saturday. I'm so relieved!

The packing is going well but we keep underestimating how many boxes it's going to take and I keep remembering last minute things I think I ought to take care of. Having the Thanksgiving holiday in the middle of this was making it challenging to deal with all of this. Not to mention the many emotional and physical curveballs we've been confronting of late.

Both Paul and I had had intuitive heads-up that we might not get on the road until Sunday and today I was trying to "convince" myself that if we weren't ready to go until then that we could pay an extra day's rental fee and just live with it. Health is more important.

But now we know that the rental truck isn't going to be ready and it isn't our fault and everybody's happy. The U-Haul guy didn't get yelled at when he called to tell us the mistake. I don't have to push so hard. And we all can take a break and even enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday a little bit. Yeah!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Story of Mama Love Flower Essence Aromatherapy Perfume



Ironically, I'm going through a similar "crisis" in my life again. But this time it's interesting. I'm not needing Mama Love for Troubled Times...although I did use Mama Love for Doing New things with Confidence today. Paul and I have been going through some big ups and downs with this move, as I think anyone in our position would be. But I, for one, have come to believe that we will be guided to useful experiences and opportunities. I'm actually looking forward to finding out what they're going to be.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Introduction to Flower Essences Video

Don't know why editing video seemed to be more important than packing this morning. Well, actually, I DO know why. It's a lot more fun to be doing something that feels creative. Relocation could be seen as an act of creation in itself....but the first few steps involve dismantling everything you've created in one location and letting it go.

I shot this video in the herb bed at the UCSC Farm and Garden. Pretty spot and relatively quiet although it was surprising how noisy the traffic was even there. I understand that it's silent way out in the desert at Paul's mother's house. If it's not freezing cold maybe we'll shoot some videos on her front porch.

This video describes how I went from being a flower essence skeptic to someone who uses them all the time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Don't Throw Us in the Briar Patch!






When it comes to getting out of a no-win sticky situation, sometimes the best solution is the one that appears to be the worst. Since the rabbit is a totem animal of sorts for me I thought I'd post this story as an example of what we're thinking about our current move to Arizona now. We're actually looking forward to the new opportunities this move would bring. If Paul's mother wasn't going to be out of town until Dec 1 or 2nd we'd be on our way sooner.

The following story is used with permission of S.E. Schlosser and AmericanFolklore.net. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.


Brer Rabbit meets a Tar Baby
retold by
S. E. Schlosser

Well now, that rascal Brer Fox hated Brer Rabbit on account of he was always cutting capers and bossing everyone around. So Brer Fox decided to capture and kill Brer Rabbit if it was the last thing he ever did! He thought and he thought until he came up with a plan. He would make a tar baby! Brer Fox went and got some tar and he mixed it with some turpentine and he sculpted it into the figure of a cute little baby. Then he stuck a hat on the Tar Baby and sat her in the middle of the road.

Brer Fox hid himself in the bushes near the road and he waited and waited for Brer Rabbit to come along. At long last, he heard someone whistling and chuckling to himself, and he knew that Brer Rabbit was coming up over the hill. As he reached the top, Brer Rabbit spotted the cute little Tar Baby. Brer Rabbit was surprised. He stopped and stared at this strange creature. He had never seen anything like it before!

"Good Morning," said Brer Rabbit, doffing his hat. "Nice weather we're having."

The Tar Baby said nothing. Brer Fox laid low and grinned an evil grin.

Brer Rabbit tried again. "And how are you feeling this fine day?" The Tar Baby, she said nothing. Brer Fox grinned an evil grin and lay low in the bushes.

Brer Rabbit frowned. This strange creature was not very polite. It was beginning to make him mad.

"Ahem!" said Brer Rabbit loudly, wondering if the Tar Baby were deaf. "I said 'HOW ARE YOU THIS MORNING?"

The Tar Baby said nothing. Brer Fox curled up into a ball to hide his laugher. His plan was working perfectly!

"Are you deaf or just rude?" demanded Brer Rabbit, losing his temper. "I can't stand folks that are stuck up! You take off that hat and say 'Howdy-do' or I'm going to give you such a lickin'!"

The Tar Baby just sat in the middle of the road looking as cute as a button and saying nothing at all. Brer Fox rolled over and over under the bushes, fit to bust because he didn't dare laugh out loud.

"I'll learn ya!" Brer Rabbit yelled. He took a swing at the cute little Tar Baby and his paw got stuck in the tar.

"Lemme go or I'll hit you again," shouted Brer Rabbit. The Tar Baby, she said nothing.

"Fine! Be that way," said Brer Rabbit, swinging at the Tar Baby with his free paw. Now both his paws were stuck in the tar, and Brer Fox danced with glee behind the bushes.

"I'm gonna kick the stuffin' out of you," Brer Rabbit said and pounced on the Tar Baby with both feet. They sank deep into the Tar Baby. Brer Rabbit was so furious he head-butted the cute little creature until he was completely covered with tar and unable to move.

Brer Fox leapt out of the bushes and strolled over to Brer Rabbit. "Well, well, what have we here?" he asked, grinning an evil grin.

Brer Rabbit gulped. He was stuck fast. He did some fast thinking while Brer Fox rolled about on the road, laughing himself sick over Brer Rabbit's dilemma.

"I've got you this time, Brer Rabbit," said Brer Fox, jumping up and shaking off the dust. "You've sassed me for the very last time. Now I wonder what I should do with you?"

Brer Rabbit's eyes got very large. "Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don't throw me into the briar patch."

"Maybe I should roast you over a fire and eat you," mused Brer Fox. "No, that's too much trouble. Maybe I'll hang you instead."

"Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please," said Brer Rabbit. "Only please, Brer Fox, please don't throw me into the briar patch."

"If I'm going to hang you, I'll need some string," said Brer Fox. "And I don't have any string handy. But the stream's not far away, so maybe I'll drown you instead."

"Drown me! Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please," said Brer Rabbit. "Only please, Brer Fox, please don't throw me into the briar patch."

"The briar patch, eh?" said Brer Fox. "What a wonderful idea! You'll be torn into little pieces!"

Grabbing up the tar-covered rabbit, Brer Fox swung him around and around and then flung him head over heels into the briar patch. Brer Rabbit let out such a scream as he fell that all of Brer Fox's fur stood straight up. Brer Rabbit fell into the briar bushes with a crash and a mighty thump. Then there was silence.

Brer Fox cocked one ear toward the briar patch, listening for whimpers of pain. But he heard nothing. Brer Fox cocked the other ear toward the briar patch, listening for Brer Rabbit's death rattle. He heard nothing.

Then Brer Fox heard someone calling his name. He turned around and looked up the hill. Brer Rabbit was sitting on a log combing the tar out of his fur with a wood chip and looking smug.

"I was bred and born in the briar patch, Brer Fox," he called. "Born and bred in the briar patch."

And Brer Rabbit skipped away as merry as a cricket while Brer Fox ground his teeth in rage and went home.

You can read more Georgia folktales in Spooky South by S.E. Schlosser.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Moving Update

We're packing up and getting ready to move to the Southwest. Paul's mother lives in Arizona, near the New Mexico border, so we're going there to start out with. But, unless we're very surprised by what we see out there we imagine we'll almost immediately be looking for another place to live and places to work doing our spiritual counseling and healing work, selling Mama Love perfume, etc.

My Mama Love shop on Etsy and also off-Etsy will be temporarily closed Nov. 26 or 27th so if you're hoping to get Christmas presents there, better do it now. I'll try to open up for business as soon as we get settled in. But it could be more than a week after we hit the road (on or before Dec. 1) and things get pretty tight for delivering the mail by Christmas after that.

We'll also be looking for leads as to where to go to get our services and products to people after that. We've been told that Sedona is a good place for us to check out. Maybe parts of New Mexico and Arizona as well. If anyone out there happens to see this blog and has suggestions to offer, people to contact, or -- even better -- friends they could hook us up with, be sure to get in touch.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Orange



Friday, November 14, 2008

Looking for a New Home

We're leaving Santa Cruz at the end of this month. We knew we had come to the end of the road here financially for a long time. 90% of our business comes from other places and living in the 2nd least affordable place in the country under these circumstances just breaks our hearts.

It's beautiful in Santa Cruz, sunny and warm enough to be outside in a t-shirt and bare feet almost year round. It's a strange mix of polarized politics and more artists and arts and cultural activities than you're likely to find almost anywhere in the country. There are also spiritual counselors and alternative health practitioners on every corner here -- an overabundance of riches for anyone interested in holistic healing -- and a growing market for these kinds of services elsewhere in the United States where the populace has fewer opportunities to take advantage of them.

Santa Cruzans describe their hometown as " paradise." "How can you even think of living anywhere else?" is the pretty much universal response whenever we mention leaving. People work two, sometimes three jobs to stay here -- frequently handing over 50% of their income (or more) just to paying rent.

We wish we didn't have to leave but I've never been able to stomach what it takes to get by here. I've given it a try many times and each time wound up financially better off but so unhappy, sick and frustrated I had to let it go. I'm never happier than when Paul and I are doing our work. But we can do that anywhere in the country now and paradise comes-- I think -- from living where you have a happy home.

We've put out the vision of what we want before but I never put it here on this blog so I'm going to cut and paste one of our more recent email newsletters here. You never know who's going to read what you say and where they're going to find it. If you have any leads for us in our new home search, please send us an email or give us a call.

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Paul here: This month Sheryl and I are putting out a vision, our vision. We're required to move from our home and home office very soon and have been seeking a new situation with a lot of the same good stuff but more and better, too.

We do firmly believe that when one door closes another one opens. Sometimes we squeal about it, sometimes not. As Sheryl and I have discussed numerous times, we'd like more face time with clients and potential clients. Anytime we bring it up, visions of a spiritual retreat center, with a gift shop, maybe a cafe come up. Or sometimes it's simply a spiritual bookstore with a private room for counseling and healing. Sometimes Sheryl and I envision a very similar space to what we have now: more residential in appearance, and maybe we do live in the back, or off to the side, but the front structure is definitely business: it's a storefront with proper signage and in a good location for doing business.

As many of you know we are engaged in multiple business interests. In addition to our joint healing and counseling practice, Sheryl is an artist, a non-fiction author, and sole owner /proprietor of Mama Love Products which is a line of healing body care products. She manufactures and sells the whole line herself to both wholesale and retail markets. Sheryl is also primary web-designer and marketer for much of what we do.

I am an author of fiction / creative non-fiction, and an accomplished photographer. It's not hard at all for us to imagine a single venue stocked with our art and photography (cards and prints) our books, articles and stories, body products and other gift items, a treatment room and even a small photographic portrait studio. Of course, there'd be a website too. Oh, and surprise! Sheryl sees a bed and breakfast as playing a possible part in all this.

Many parts of this are already a part of our lives—it would be easy to transfer many of these skills and abilities to a creative collaboration —but we have not yet found the physical space, the partners and financial backing, at least not yet.

Our fantasy is that someone on our list knows someone who needs our help in their metaphysical bookshop / bed & breakfast / retreat center or the equivalent. And that they’d love to have a special spiritual counseling and healing team join their staff. Since housing is also one of our primary concerns various possibilities in regards to compensation might be worked out.

If anyone fits this description on our list or thinks they may know someone who could use our help, please pass this newsletter on to those people and get in touch with us. Send a reply via email or call us (831) 325-4076.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Persimmon Bounty


The tree in the front yard is literally falling over with persimmons. One more example of a bounty of fruit in our yard this year. We have had way more fruit than we can eat this season, and until recently I realized I wasn't taking full enough advantage of it.

I never was a persimmon fan. Until recently I had only eaten Hachiya persimmons which are very astringent when picked off the tree. They have to be ripened for several days in a paper bag and then they turn to a slimy honey-tasting muck. Some people absolutely love them.

Our persimmon tree, however, is the Fuyu variety. They can be eaten right off the tree and are crisp and sweet, tasting somewhat like a very mild apple or pear. We've never had more than 1-2 persimmons on the tree before. It's very young. So this year's crop is quite a surprise.

I'm very attracted to orange colored fruit right now. I have Mango Tangerine Sorbet in the freezer and Ben and Jerry's Peach Cobbler ice cream. I want to eat carrots and would actually like to eat an orange right now. Orange is the color of the second chakra and I always associate a craving for that color as indicative of a spiritual need for emotional sustenance. The second chakra is about pleasure, emotional safety and sexuality. It's also connected, along with the first chakra which is more survival oriented, to financial abundance and personal well-being.

'Nuff said about that. I decided to appreciate the orange I have in my life right now and made an absolutely wonderful Brandied Persimmon and Date Bread. It's my own recipe, altered significantly from another recipe I found on the net.

Brandied Persimmon and Date Bread

Butter for greasing the loaf pan
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 cup of Fuyu persimmon puree (see instructions below)
Brandy (see instructions below)
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 Fuyu persimmon, peeled and chopped
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (or slightly less)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

First make persimmon puree: Peel and chop 2-4 Fuyu persimmons. Put in the microwave on high for 2 minutes and then blend in a blender with a splash or two of brandy. Don't ask me how much. I just put enough to make it easier to blend and then a touch more. :-)

Let the persimmon puree cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 5x9-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Place the eggs and oil in a medium sized bowl and mix well. Add the persimmon puree, dates, pecans, and chopped persimmon. Stir to blend.

Place the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves in a large bowl. Blend well. Add the egg, oil and fruit mixture and stir to combine. Don't overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 65-70 minutes.

Let bread cool, remove from the pan and eat it warm or at room temperature. Yum!!!

Wrapped in plastic wrap, the bread can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Monday, November 10, 2008

You're Only Down..

if you don't get back up.

Amazing video I found today. Take a look:

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Free Flower Essence Aromatherapy Consultation



Need help picking a Mama Love perfume or other products from my Mama Love shop for yourself or people you love? Send me an email and ask me to help!

Wishbone


The other day I cooked a whole chicken, something I don't think I've ever done, found the wishbone and brought it out to Paul who was sitting on the couch.

You know the wishbone ritual, don't you? Two people grab hold of either end, make a wish and whoever gets the bigger half with the center of the wishbone attached gets their wish.

So we each took a deep breath, silently wished our wishes and gave this wishbone a yank. The bone snapped in equal pieces while the middle flew off over our heads!

Then we asked each other what we wished for. It was the same wish.

Friday, November 07, 2008

In What Way Do You Keep Yourself In the Closet?



New video just up on Youtube today. I have to admit to feeling uncomfortable with the amount of emotion I express in it. While I knew these issues are things that play in the background for me a fair bit of the time, I honestly had no idea it's been in my way to the extent that I've noticed it lately.

Paul doesn't struggle with this kind of thing. He seems to think it's because he was a pretty popular kid growing up and has never identified much with being a member of an oppressed group. I was brought up Jewish; he wasn't. I heard the phrase "what will the neighbors think if..." used as the reason me or my brother and sisters should not behave in various ways on a regular basis. Paul's mom actually went to bat for him in school and defended his right to be who he was. He has an aura of confidence about himself I dream of for myself.

What would the world be like if we all felt safe enough to be who we are?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

No to Bigotry for Obama

In this same election which celebrates -- and rightfully so -- the election of the first black man to the presidency of the United States we also saw three states (California, Florida and Arkansas) attempt to eliminate the right for people to marry unless they are heterosexual. African Americans and Latinos, who came out in force to support Barack Obama, voted overwhelmingly for this initiative in California, as did a great many white people. Apparently even people who have experienced intense discrimination themselves failed to see this as a civil rights issue.

Despite the intention of the Constitution to uphold a separation of church and state, people in this country still vote based on religious belief and the dominant religion defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. But the state has an interest in marriage, too. And, in fact, a desire to support it to the extent that legal and financial protections are provided to married folks that other people don't receive. To be honest, I think all committed family units (and that doesn't just mean gay couples) should be provided with legal and financial benefits regardless of marital status under the law. Perhaps that would be an easier pill to swallow than gay rights seems to be...but in the meantime the fight is being fought on "moral" and religious grounds and that, I think, creates an excuse for fear-mongering and bigotry to run rampant.

In a strange turn of events, given my frustration with religious organizations who used their financial clout to steer this election, today I received a "celebratory" email from a spiritual-but-not-religious website comparing Obama to Jesus in a supposedly joking manner. The article included managed to be both anti-Semitic and anti-Christian, no small feat if you ask me, and reminded me once again that bigotry really is alive and well in all sorts of forms despite the gains that have been made.

People don't see bigotry the same way when they're not the target of it--I'm sure that spiritual-but-not-religious group meant no harm. I'm sure the Mormon church and other religious organizations that pulled out all the stops to promote "Yes on Proposition 8" meant well. But that's the problem. It's easy to forget what it feels like to be part of a marginalized group when your group isn't the one being targeted.

I'm glad I had a chance to savor this election with everyone last night. I really felt proud of America for voting for change. Today, I guess, it's time to get back to work.

Santa Cruz Celebrates Obama



Paul and I didn't know it was happening but apparently this was the scene in downtown Santa Cruz minutes after Obama's election was announced. Almost 80% of Santa Cruzans voted for Obama.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama Llama Song

Rockabelles Obama

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vote However You Like Song

Sunday, November 02, 2008

An American Prayer

Slander, Lies and Videotape

Woke up with thoughts of a “Hitler Youth” retitled video of little kids singing a song in support of Barack Obama. When searching for inspirational (and fun -- wait until election day) political music videos for this blog I came across several videos people had taken from other sites, downloaded and then re-uploaded with a different title. The Manifest Obama video I put up earlier was one of them. It was retitled “Creepy”. But the Hitler Youth videos -- and there were several of different sorts -- were a lot more insidious and upsetting.

A group of families who support Obama filmed their kids singing a song while wearing Obama campaign T-shirts and innocently offered it on the Internet to support their candidate. The fear-mongerers of the Right snatched it up and have been using it as "evidence" that the Obama campaign is some kind of Nazi-Socialist indoctrination movement. Similar to how the intention of the Manifest Obama video was treated.

Since when does coming out in force for something you believe in warrant a title related to Hitler? Hitler wasn’t about equality for all people. Hitler would not have supported a black man, never mind a mixed race -- half white, half black --person! What on earth is going on with this? And why is it SO prevalent and insidious on the Internet?

Because it works. Oddly enough.

One of my favorite comedians, Craig Ferguson, likes to joke sarcastically that he found such and such a thing on the Internet and that means “it must be true!” Same thing could be said for things found in the newspaper.

More than 20 years ago I wrote a book about the origin, history and folklore of the Christmas Tree that focused, primarily, on what the tree meant before Christianity. I’m no longer a practicing Jew -- my faith can best be described as eclectic -- but having grown up Jewish I’m very sensitive to not wanting to say or write anything that might be offensive to Christians. I worried long and hard about publishing this book, especially because I felt the chapter about pagan myths that were similar to the story of Jesus and Mary might be seen as controversial.

Interestingly enough, NOBODY has ever mentioned it. The book came out to practically no attention at all. I was interviewed for maybe 18 little 2-3 minute sound bites on obscure radio stations around the country and had two more in-depth interviews locally. I spent several depressing weekends of my life doing booksignings and talks for whopping crowds of 4-5 people at most, and gave up thinking about it. Then, about two years ago, USA Today wanted to do an article about a new fashion trend of hanging Christmas Trees upside down from the ceiling and called me up.

The reporter was very funny and congenial. He had a particular angle he wanted to do the story from and, because I supposedly wrote the “definitive book” about the origin of the Christmas Tree, he wanted me to talk about what the symbolism of the tree meant and whether hanging the tree upside down might reverse it. I thought that might be the case if people thought about it too much so when he jokingly said “So, Sheryl, would you agree then that hanging the tree upside down might be seen as ‘sinister’? “ I laughed and said that it probably could. I also talked about the tree as having had great significance to pagan people.

Next thing I knew I was “quoted” in USA Today saying “The upside down Christmas Tree is sinister because it’s pagan.” I said no such thing! But before I knew it my supposed quote was spread all over the Internet and my email box was inundated with upset Pagans who wanted to string me up for insulting their religion. And to make matters worse, I thought of Pagans and Neo-pagans as my primary market for this book.

I had to come out swinging about this, got USA Today to print a correction (which was no small feat), printed a large notice on my website to stop the barrage of criticism coming at me, and printed something on this blog as well. The controversy faded away but every year since, starting a few weeks ago this year, I still get inquiries from reporters around the country wanting to follow suit on the USA Today article and get some new quotes for upside down Christmas Tree articles of their own. I always turn them down.

The power of the press to twist an innocent comment into a big “news story” has been part and parcel of the business from the beginning. It even featured strongly in the Frank Capra film “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” in which the idealistic new senator played by Jimmy Stewart is tricked into saying something and is then misquoted in the press exactly the way it happened to me.

But done on the Internet such tactics are more powerful. Reputations can be ruined in a matter of hours and completely slanderous things can be said -- and are said-- on blogs and forums all the time.

Don’t type in “Hitler Youth and Obama” in your search engine if you want to sleep well and digest your dinner tonight. And if you’re ready for a change in Washington don’t think it’s not important to come out and vote just because Obama appears to be still leading in the polls.

There’s a seamy underbelly to American politics...and it’s alive and well on the internet.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Yes We can - Obama

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vote!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Censored Video No Longer - Manifest Obama

Some wonderful people made this video of people trying out saying the words "President Barack Obama." Some famous Far Right commentator who I never heard of and will not give publicity to here incited people to slam the website where this was posted with horrible hateful comments to the extent that the site was taken down and the linked video removed from people's blogs all across the country. Fortunately, somebody in the Far Right posted a copy on Youtube with a mean-spirited title but the video remains the same. So I've resurrected it here for all to see. I have time to moderate comments on my blog now until the election. Rest assured this video will NOT be taken down... at least not by me.

Barack Obama Inspiration

Did you see Barack Obama's 30 minute infomercial last night? I don't know if I dare to believe he'll be able to do half of what he thinks he can accomplish but -- wow!-- have you ever seen a candidate for the White House in the last 40 years or more who has had the ability to inspire as many people as he's been able to? No matter what happens I'm just so thrilled to be able to see something like this in my lifetime. It's kind of thrilling. I don't think I've ever been so excited about an election in my life. Talk about imagining positive possibility! Wow!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Emotional Backlash from Proposition 8

I have felt weepy and over-reactive since my last blog post and every time I reread that post I feel even weepier. I'm not gay but I feel like this issue is mine! I thought it was time I gave it a deeper look.

Whenever we go to Gay Pride events, intending to offer our support to our gay neighbors and friends, I spend the day weeping. I feel so touched by the outpouring of love and mutual support around the issue of being oneself because this is something, growing up as an ostracized kid, I didn't experience very much.

I grew up feeling different. I was Jewish and lived in an Irish and Italian Catholic neighborhood. My mom taught me how to read when I was three years old. And I had a photographic memory— I could read a book once, go to class to take a test and not remember the answer, see the book in my mind, turn to the right page in my imagination and read the text off the page and get an "A" on the test anyway. I was also very shy and people in my school didn't like that combination very much.

You see, they thought the combination of me not talking to them and being "smart" meant I was "stuck up." I didn't think I was smart, by the way—I didn't know the answers to the questions on the tests any more than anyone else did! But my test scores told them a different story and that was all my classmates needed to decide to try to take me down a peg at every opportunity.

The first lesson I learned when I went to school was the importance of not standing out from the crowd. I distinctly remember the titters that happened when the other Jewish kid in my class read beautifully when it was his turn to read a few lines from Dick and Jane while the other children struggled to sound out the words one by one. No one tittered at the struggling. That was the norm. They made fun of the one who didn't struggle. When it was my turn I pretended I needed to read slowly and escaped being made fun of for awhile. But not for long. The teacher kept track of how many books each student read in her class and one day brought in a chart that showed me being miles ahead of everyone else. My cover was blown and that was the end of my anonymity from that point on.

Later I discovered that there were many differences that people got ostracized for in my school. Being fat, being poor, being Chinese, being the child of divorced parents—those were the difference-making attributes of the only kids I got to hang out with, the other ostracised kids in the class. And all the differences were things we didn't choose for ourselves. We just had to figure out how to live with it, or disguise it, or grow out of it, or—later —to embrace it.

Later I realized that psychic abilities were something I was expected to hide or, better yet, do without. I spent years of my life deliberately shutting my abilities down. When I came to a point in my life where these abilities came back, I first had to learn how to overcome my fears of having them. And now that Paul and I want to use those skills in addition to our education and experience to help other people our biggest emotional hurdle has been how to come out of hiding and be fully who we are.

Not surprisingly, the struggle to be oneself is at the heart of most, if not all of the sessions we do. What will the neighbors think if I do thus and so? What will my family do? How can I know my life purpose if I was taught all my life that my deepest heart's desires aren't "good enough"? What will I do if I tell the truth about how I really feel about my marriage, my career, my religion? And these issues don't just come up in the spiritual counseling and healing sessions we do.

Paul is a professional photographer and recently he and I have done a couple of portrait shoots with people who felt as if they didn't come across well in pictures. The truth of the matter is that they were both perfectly nice looking people but whenever Paul was about to take the shot, they would literally grimace. Oww! It was painful to watch. Both people were so convinced they were going to look ugly in their pictures that they actually scrunched up their faces and looked... I hate to say it..... ugly. That's when Paul called me in and I took on the job of being a distraction so they would let down their guard and Paul could catch them in the act of being themselves. Being themselves is when they looked the most beautiful, the most radiant, and the most wonderful to be with, too.

For me, and a lot of people like me, the struggle for gay people to have the right to marry has nothing to do with the institution of marriage. It's about people being able to be who they are and having the right to the same protections and benefits under the law everybody else has.

Paul put it to me plainly the other day. We shouldn't be able to legislate away anybody's constitutional rights—rights based on the stated basic premise that all men (people) are created equal and shall be treated as such under the law. To write into legislation that any group shall be discriminated against—that the difference of being gay is any different than the difference of being a different race, religion or gender—is antithetical to what this nation stands for.

You don't have to like gay people. You don't have to like Jews. You can think people who admit to having psychic skills are crazy if you want to. And you can make snide remarks at Obama for being "eloquent" and smart. But this way of being has hurt too many people for far too long.

It's time to change it now.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Proposition 8 in a Medical Intuition Session

Some time ago we had a client come to us with a painful shoulder. He knew exactly how he hurt it. He didn’t expect us to play doctor or give him a medical diagnosis. But, having had several effective sessions with us before, he wondered if there was a psychological or spiritual component to his getting hurt since the incident seemed to be part of a repeating pattern.

Paul and I both took a look psychically and I answered his concerns first. “It seems like it’s hard for you to receive the help you need in your life.” Then Paul jumped in “No, it’s worse! It’s like something from outside yourself is impeding you from getting the help you need!” We were all quiet for a minute, none of us knowing what that intuition could mean and Paul dropped into a deeply meditative state. When he came back out he said “I don’t know why I’m supposed to ask you this but I’m wondering how this proposition that’s coming up for a vote (Proposition 8) is affecting you.” For those of you outside of California, if this proposition passed it would take away our client’s right to legitimize his 25 year old gay partnership through marriage.

The pain in our client’s face was immediate and a deep grief was palpable in the room. “This is it” he said. He talked about the “chip on his shoulder” he felt he always carried for being different and how the struggle for equal rights was a terrible cross to bear especially with the vicious advertising campaign being waged across the state designed to take away those hard-won rights once again. He didn’t want to ask for help again. He didn’t want to have to beg his friends to go to the polls and vote. He didn’t want to feel the pain and humiliation of coming out in public—again—and to look to the outside world to provide him with a feeling of legitimacy through fighting this proposition. He didn’t dare even think about it...but it was there and it was getting in his way and causing physical pain.

We counseled and talked for some time. While we, of course, couldn’t solve the entire problem of gay rights and personal legitimacy in a single counseling session, our client left feeling satisfied that he knew how he wanted to handle this situation and ended the session by asking us to vote, which we are happy to do.

Intuitive health consultations are not a substitute for medical diagnosis and we can’t use our intuitive abilities to help people avoid appropriate medical care. But, as shown above, it is an extremely effective tool for accessing mind/body/spirit connections that the medical system doesn’t address. It is our experience that the physical body acts as a reflection of a person's emotional state of being, mental beliefs and spiritual orientation. By understanding the interconnection of mind, body and spirit it is easier to unravel long-standing health issues. We can then use a variety of energy healing and spiritual counseling techniques to gently yet powerfully help you shift these detrimental patterns. That work supports healing on every level.

But, this said, individual work only takes people so far when there's a need to challenge the status quo in our society as a whole. Please get out and vote! There's a lot at stake in this election and it means far more to your friends and neighbors than you could ever know.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Couldn't We All Use a Little Mama Love?


Mama Love Flower Essence Aromatherapy was given a plug in two popular blogs this week -- Organic Beauty Expert and The Scented Life. I appreciate them both for doing that, of course, but the one in The Scented Life particularly touched me because the author of the blog wrote about what was at the heart of Mama Love, something I forget to talk about much myself.

Mama Love is not named "Mama Love" because I sell products for new mothers! So many people make that assumption that sometimes I fret over having named my product line this at all.

No, Mama Love is called Mama Love because I think of the love most of us receive from our mothers as being the most nurturing, most unconditional, most nourishing love we experience when we're very young and that's the feeling I wanted to evoke in the products I sell.

Thank you, Amy, at The Scented Life for reminding me to tell the truth. It's not just about health and healing. It's not just about having fun (although that's true, too). It's about having the experience of having created a product that made me feel as loved and as safe as a baby being held securely in her mother's arms. And then deciding to share that formula (Mama Love for Troubled Times) with the world.

It turns out that formula isn't the most popular one -- "Mama Love for Releasing Worry and Fear" holds that distinction. But the intent behind the product line's name remains the same.

Mama Love. The most healing love -- in physical form -- of them all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reiki Bears Are On the Move!


Reiki Bears are proving to be a popular item in recent months and I have to admit to getting a real kick out of putting them in a box.

The Bears cost $12 on their own but I include one free with any purchase of at least $50 (not including tax and shipping) from my Mama Love shop or from my shop on Etsy.com.

Know someone who is going through a rough time right now? Add some Mama Love for Troubled Times or Releasing Worry or Fear, Restful Sleep, Abundant Prosperity (who doesn't need that?), Trusting Inner Guidance, or Doing New Things with Confidence. It makes a great gift!

Why Colin Powell Endorses Obama


I read this article by Maureen Dowd in today's San Jose Mercury News. It touched me and spoke my thoughts on the subject more than I could ever do on my own. It's well worth a read and makes me proud that Colin Powell is an American.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Independent Filmmaking and the Pacific Rim Film Festival


Paul and our friend Marie and I have been going to free films as part of the Pacific Rim Film Festival all this weekend and we're going tonight, too! We've seen some great ones by filmmakers you've probably never heard of. Our favorite so far was American Fusion, the first feature length film by director Frank Lin which starred some well known actors like Pat Morita and Esai Morales. He claims it was shot in 18 days, using only two cameras, and he did all the editing himself on his girlfriend's computer using software he had to teach himself how to use as he went along! You'd never know. It was well-written, very funny, well-shot and as well-done as any film I've seen at our local arthouse film theater. It's coming out on DVD sometime this year and if you have a chance to rent it on Netflicks, do! It's a lot of fun.

Seeing films like we've seen this week has been very inspiring. We just got our new video camera, by the way. That's Paul with it in the photo above. The fuzzy thing is a cover that gets put over the microphone to cut out wind noise when you shoot footage outside. Paul says the technical term for it is "dead cat." We think it looks ridiculous but it should make people laugh when we point our camera in their direction and ask them to smile for the kitty!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Believe in Positive Possibilities











































My newest designs in our Cafepress shop. I like them a lot -- really girly, uplifting and fun. Click the link above to see the whole line or click on the pictures to go directly to that item.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I Can't Believe a Person Who Claims to Be Spiritual Would...

Whenever somebody is upset with Paul and me they always start their harangue with the phrase "I can't believe a person who claims to be spiritual would..." do, say, believe, neglect to do, say, believe, write a story, take a picture of, act like, associate with, refuse to repudiate, condemn, refuse to condemn, etc. This approach is used to disparage just about anybody who is willing to speak about their spiritual orientation in public. And it is especially used to squelch discussion of polarized political issues.

I thought I'd start a few short lists.

I can't believe a person who claims to be spiritual would...
  • Vote for McCain
  • Vote for Obama
  • Believe abortion should be legal
  • Oppose abortion for victims of incest or rape and women with health issues
  • Believe gay people should be allowed to marry
  • Refuse to allow any two people who love each other to have the same rights and protections other married people have
  • Go to war
  • Refuse to fight for one's country (be a conscientious objector)
  • Express an opinion like that (on such an important issue)
  • Refuse to express your opinion (on such an important issue)
I can't believe a person who claims to be spiritual would...
  • Eat meat
  • Wear leather
  • Wear a low-cut blouse
  • Wear so much eye make-up
  • Wear blue jeans in public
  • Dress like that
I can't believe a person who claims to be spiritual would...
  • Get angry
  • Fight back
  • Feel worried
  • Feel afraid
  • Get confused
  • Think a single negative thought
  • Refuse to see things the "way they are"
  • Make a mistake like that
I can't believe a person who claims to be spiritual would...
  • Fill in the ___________ with your spiritual prejudice here

Friday, October 17, 2008

Singing at the Threshold

I recently got an email from the Threshold Choir, a wonderful singing community I used to participate in founded by Kate Munger in El Cerrito, California. Choirs have now formed in many places throughout the United States and Sussex, England and new ones are being created all the time.

What makes The Threshold Choir special is that it was specifically formed to comfort the sick and dying. Choir members learn songs in 2-4 part harmony and "perform" them (offer them) at people's bedsides. They sing in pairs or in small groups at hospices, hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes by the invitation of the family or the person's caregivers. Sometimes the family is present when they sing, and they sing as much for them as for the person who is in bed. The service is provided for free although donations are gratefully accepted.

It's a wonderful experience to be sung to like this. All Threshold Choir members get to have the experience themselves and when I was a member of the group I remember it as moving, extremely peaceful and profound.

Here's a lovely video I found on Youtube featuring members of the choir I used to sing with in Santa Cruz. I never actually sang at a bedside myself but I still find it inspiring work.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Peace, Love, Joy, Laughter, Hope, Dreams, Faith, Beauty, Abundance, Truth, Health, Wisdom, Well-being






























I've put some new designs up in our Cafepress shop this week. We're getting tired of the gloom and doom on the television news these days. It's time to pay attention to what's really important. Peace, Love, Joy, Laughter, Hope, Dreams, Faith, Beauty, Abundance, Truth, Health, Wisdom, Well-being... and that's just the first few things I thought of. Pink, purple or blue type on T-shirts, mugs, stickers, greeting cards, buttons...whatever suits your fancy or in your budget. If you click on the images at left you'll be taken to that page in our Cafepress site.

Happy Birthday to Me

I'm fifty this year. It's not a number I relate to when it comes to my age just yet...but I'm doing the best I can.









Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Truth and Beauty, Fear Versus Intuition

One of my favorite inspirational authors is Rob Brezsny, ex-Santa Cruzan poet-astrologer author of Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings. He sends me a weekly astrology email newsletter which I enjoy and continually compiles positive and uplifting links and information in what he calls his "Beauty and Truth Lab." You can find a link to his Free Will astrology website (the home of the lab) in one of the sidebars at the left.

So, just a short time ago, I was fretting over how our intuition of late (both Paul's and my own) is strangely out of sync with what our intellect would say is the appropriate thing to do. We make only the money we've needed to get by, are being told we must move really soon, haven't succeeded in even finding stopgap "day jobs" that could adequately provide for what we need and what does our intuition tell us to do? Buy video cameras, sound and lighting gear and prepare to become budding videographers??!!! What the....???!!!!

When I forget about the making money NOW thing I really like the idea. We've had several conversations about things we'd like to do. We even think we'd like to interview other people and point a spotlight on other things we find inspiring instead of just pointing the camera at ourselves. Paul's Kundalini Awakening video on Youtube has had 22,000 views so far and brought us several clients so, besides our website and Craigslist ads, it has been one of the more successful things we've done. But it didn't do that much for our business by itself, it requires a lot of time to come up with the concept, shoot and edit the footage, and most of our videos were not similarly successful so the thought of doing more of them makes me a bit overwhelmed. I decided to lay down to do some energy healing on myself and was guided to check my email. There was Rob Brezsny's column and in it my horoscope for the week says:
Live the most interesting and imaginative life you can dream up.
And then there was a link to this podcast called "Fear Versus Intuition." It's really good.

Being afraid makes us feel helpless. Our guidance makes us feel good. It works for the people we do sessions for. I hear the theme to Indiana Jones. If we don't trust that the bridge will appear if we're brave enough to step out we'll never find out. We ordered a better video camera to replace the cheap one we got. I guess we're getting ready to take our next step.

Check Out My Sidebars!

Have you checked out my sidebars recently? I've been adding some really interesting stuff. For example, look on the left under "Fun and Inspiration". Paul's mom told us about Current TV, a really interesting cable TV program she likes to watch that is entirely done with user-created video. Al Gore is on the Board of Directors and the idea is to see what the American people would call "news" if we were in charge of the programming. Current TV fans vote for their favorite videos online and the most popular ones have a chance to be played on the air. And, if their video gets chosen, they get paid for their work besides!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Paul Hood, Portrait Photographer at Work


Here's a picture of Paul hard at work retouching a photo of a spiritual counseling and healing team that he did a long time ago. We're getting some postcards done to remind the locals that we exist and the only version of this photo we had was reduced down for the web.

Paul set up the shot in one of our favorite locations, set the timer, and then would jump in front of the camera, grab me and grin. It was a lot of fun and we were amazed that, under the circumstances, any of them came out. But I think that really is the key to good portrait photography -- getting the subject to loosen up and let their inner beauty come out and shine. We love this shot because we felt good when the picture was taken and we think it shows.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Understand the Whole Picture -- Shasta Daisy Flower Essence


Have you ever seen a Shasta Daisy? It's like a large classic daisy with multiple petals radiating out of a golden center.

In the classic young girl's divination games the petals are plucked one by one: "He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me..." Another one from the United States goes "Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, merchant, tailor, banker, chief."

Each petal represents a potential manifestation of reality. Supposedly the last petal left at the end of the chant tells the tale.

Whole daisies were also made into chains to wear as garlands or wreaths around one's head. They represented the sun, the earth and the whole of the universe—the circle of life.

Holistic consciousness recognizes that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. By focusing too much on the details of life—the individual petals—we miss the big picture. In divination we're usually trying to get guidance on one small aspect of reality. People rarely think to ask the palm reader or tarot card reader what the big picture holds. They want to know who they will marry, will they be rich, as if who they are and what they think and do has nothing to do with that.

"What is the meaning of this situation in my life?", "how can I live my life in such a way as to manifest the healthiest, happiest life possible?", or even "what can I do to prepare myself to attract a wonderful relationship into my life?" are the kind of questions we like to be asked. It's fine to ask about specific pieces of reality—one's health, one's career, one's relationships—but it's important to understand that we're not individual petals disconnected from the whole and those individual aspects of reality are not unrelated either.

Nine times out of ten when a client wants information about their health (assuming the condition was diagnosed correctly by their doctor), the next question we're guided to ask is "how is your relationship?" or "how do you like your job?" And nine times out of ten the answer to one of those questions is "I'm not too happy about that." We wind up spending the rest of the session looking at these other issues and, frequently, the health concerns unravel themselves.

Shasta Daisy flower essence is used to help a person overly focused on the details of life widen their world view so they can see the overall patterns of the situations they find themselves in, too. It is also recommended for writers, teachers, researchers or for anyone engaged in intellectual pursuits because it helps a person synthesize various ideas into an understandable whole. I use it in my Focused Attention flower essence / aromatherapy perfume.

The illustration for this blog comes from the flower essence self-awareness deck I'm working on. If you like this drawing and would like to have a copy on a journal, mug, greeting cards or t-shirt click here. (The copyright/watermark does not appear on the actual items.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Living by Radical Faith


Living by radical faith is a concept used mostly by fundamentalist Christian organizations to describe the act of trusting God (specifically Jesus) and the guidance received through prayer to guide one's life even in situations where, if your faith was to be proved wrong, failure would be the only result.

For a person who was raised as a Reform Jew this kind of faith -- the proverbial empty-handed leap into the void -- does not come easily. It's not in my upbringing, not in my training. Trusting God enough to feel safe in the world doesn't sit well with a people who have been historically faced with extermination and hounded from their homelands again and again. And yet that is what Paul and I have chosen to do.

Somewhat successfully, I might add, despite the frequently chaotic influence of the people and community around us. We've had free rent and have made just enough money to keep all our other basic needs met from the time we made this decision.

But the situation of being pushed from our current home when we haven't yet manifested or created the means to pay for a new place has not been resolved yet. We know the push was needed to get us to move towards things we've been afraid to do. But need I say how challenging maintaining faith in such a situation -- especially for a person with my upbringing -- might be?

It feels like being pushed through too small a cat door. When I first introduced my cat Fingers Magee to the concept of going outside through a cat door he freaked out. His mama was trying push him through a wall, he thought. "NOOOO!!!" He stretched his legs out as wide as he could and refused to be pushed through. Of course, once I finally succeeded he found himself in one of his favorite places -- outside the house! He looked around, quite confused, and then figured out the concept of going through a cat door by himself.

Problem is, we don't see a big enough cat door.... or we don't think we do.

There's a scene in one of the Indiana Jones movies where Indie has to cross a 30 foot chasm with no visible way to get across. He stands at the precipice, empty-handed if I correctly recall, hesitates, centers himself, and then steps out. The bridge he needs appears beneath him and he makes it across.

The empty-handed leap into the void as immortalized by Lucas Films, complete with heroic soundtrack, comes to mind whenever I think about living by radical faith in a secular society.

My own guidance whispered to me this morning "take a step, just step out towards what you want." Luckily our situation isn't anywhere near as dire as the situation Indiana Jones found himself in. We have everything to gain. And nothing to lose.