Monday, January 28, 2008

Listen to an Interview with Me on the Elder Care Expert Show

I got to do my first "radio" interview in regards to my book The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving. It was fun and it's available to hear online.
Click here to listen...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

When Will the Democrats Learn?

I really want the Democrats to win the next election and that's why I'm so frustrated with their inability to keep from attacking each other. Why do they always give in to the poverty-minded instinct of every man (or woman) for themselves? Yeah, poverty-minded. The good old boy network knows better than to do that. The Republicans close ranks and start praising each other whenever some Democrat goes over the deep end and forgets that their job is to get a Democrat in office -- not just themselves.

Hillary and Obama could have been unbeatable running mates. Instead they let their blind ambition throw a divisive element into the race. Didn't they learn anything from what Ralph Nader did to the last election?

Guerilla Marketing

I just heard this term yesterday. It's what people who don't have tons of money to spend on advertising do to get people to know about their goods and services.

Paul and I did it really well without realizing it when we put an ad up on Craigslist with a link to our spiritual counseling and healing website. Because of what we titled the ad a number of people clicked the link to our website and that helped alert the Google robots about our site. Then we put links to our site in every ad we ran after that, again not knowing what we were doing in terms of search engine optimization. Some were titled with keywords people type into Google to find Spiritual Counseling and Healing Services such as ours. The ads themselves are filled with keywords as well --again, NOT designed that way on purpose. It just makes sense to include the things you do in an ad. No rocket science involved at all.

That raised our status in Google's estimation further - especially since we did funny stuff like include cute photographs of an owl in an ad that says "Hoo, Hoo, are you, hoo, hoo" that got people to click the links and check us out and Paul ran a series of creative and funny ads about Fred, our satirical guru, the Grandmaster of the Teakettle. People check out our website every time we put up an ad.

Now, if you type "Spiritual Counseling," "Medical Intuition," "Healing" or various other things along with the words "Santa Cruz" into Google's search engine several of our ads and websites show up at the top of the page (and we didn't have to pay for that). If you leave the words "Santa Cruz" out we're currently on page 3. Except for referrals, people currently find us through our website more than any other thing we've done and Google is the top referrer to our site whenever we check our hit counter stats.

Apparently links from other websites make the Google robots go wild. So, rather than put everything in one place I've decided to create new blog websites using blogger to advertise my book and I just put one up today specifically designed to showcase and sell my art. With links back here and to all our websites in both of them. It's already made our hit counters ping. (When it makes our cash flow better I'll be even happier.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Photographer

Paul's sold his work as a photojournalist and for commercial applications but he's never had a show before. He hung his first exhibit today and sold one of his prints before it even got on the wall. I was happy for him. He's finally getting some local appreciation for his work and that does an artist good.

Visioning and Dreaming

We're all seeing Martin Luther King's "I've Got a Dream" speech on TV lately in honor of his designated day. His dream, his vision, his ability to eloquently infuse his followers with the excitement of that vision, still manages to inspire.

I've been thinking a lot about the importance of dreaming lately. I was asking my guidance for help in figuring out what of the myriad of things I typically tend to take on at once I should most focus on when my attention was captured by a quote on the side of the tea box I was holding in my hand. Sugar Plum Spice, yummy stuff.

Here's the quote:

"Know you what it is like to be a child? It is to be something very different from the man of today. It is to have a spirit yet streaming . . . . It is to believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief; it is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear; it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything, for each child has its fairy godmother in its own soul."—Francis Thompson

What did I do as a child? I daydreamed. A LOT!

Then I got an email from Ann Albers, a colleague who channels weekly guidance from her angels and broadcasts them across the internet. If she wasn't so down-to-earth I'd be embarrassed but who she is shines forth in every email she puts out and the channeled stuff comes through in a normal-sounding voice as well. Anyway, the message for this week was about dreaming big about what really matters to your heart. You can read it for yourself online.
It's really good.

Anyway, there it was again. The same message—DREAM!

Hmmm. Dream about what? But I knew when to do it and what to do it about. It turns out I have choices to make, things I'd like to see come about. Instead of leaping right in, grabbing any boat that comes along and paddling like crazy who knows where, I thought....hmmm, slow down. What do I want, what might it look like when I got there, what might be a step in that direction, and, if I point myself that way, what can I see now?

It changed things. I started imagining a possibility I hadn't considered before. And that makes a difference in the things I might choose to do this week. Things that weren't even on the horizon before.

People mislead themselves all the time. Dreaming can be misinterpreted as laziness, doing nothing, wasting time. But Paul's quite the visionary. And while he's thinking and dreaming I often spend lots of time and effort jumping in and doing things that really do wind up being a waste. Why? Because the vision wasn't broad enough yet, not fully developed, not dreamed big enough. I see a way out of whatever difficulty I think I'm in and forget that when you lose sight of the big picture a person is just as likely to go down a blind alley or dig a big hole when the best approach might have been to wait for the weather to change or choose another approach altogether.

Having grown up in New England I frequently think of the seasons as a way to think about one's life. In January, the quiet cold dark time of winter, we stay inside physically and metaphysically. For gardeners it's time to get seed catalogs out and dream of what one wants to plant and harvest in the coming year. It's a good time for all of us to dream as well. The dreams we dream do determine what we plant. Without planning, without envisioning where we want to end up, the things we most want lie dormant, waiting to become manifest but never realized.

Dreaming is the first step on the way to manifestation. Little kids do this naturally. They know that just pretend games help them feel into what they might want to be and do. It's the first step of deciding what you want to be when you grow up.

That looks like fun—let's build a fort out of snow, throw snowballs at each other and have a war. Ow! That one hurt! I didn't like snowball fights one bit.

But I did like building the structure we had the fights in. I liked making the snow people who guarded our fort when we weren't in it and I liked figuring out how to decorate and dress these watchpeople most of all. Some kids don't like that part. They just want to dig into the snowbank, pack it into a ball and throw it.

Today I spend much of my time being an artist. I don't like to throw things—I create them. I make things. I design them.

"Each child has its fairy godmother in its own soul." Each adult does too. That's what visioning is about. It's how we get started in making our dreams come true.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Year of the Earth Rat

My friend Vanessa sent me an email saying that starting on Paul's birthday this February begins the Chinese Year of the Earth Rat. According to the email:

"The Rat year heralds a time of plenty, and is congenial and happier than most others; free of explosive events and wars, with a minimum of catastrophes! But, it will also be spicy, promising plenty of bargaining, bickering and good-natured “ratty” arguing. It is a time to socialize and enjoy ourselves with glee, in true rat fashion!

"So please, take pleasure in the abundance and good fortune of 2008, with its many fine business opportunities and prospects. This year the world economy should boom, with fortunes on the upswing, especially in the last quarter. It is also wise to establish some long-term investments, as the Rat bonanza may be followed by lean years. In minding your business, don’t take chances or unnecessary risks, as Rat year is still ruled by the cold of winter and dark of night. If you speculate badly and overextend yourself, you may end the year in a sorry state indeed."

It's pretty early to wish everyone "Gung Hay Fat Choy" (a happy and prosperous New Year) but it's never too soon to think positively and plan ahead so I thought I'd go ahead and put this blog up.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Can Eating Meat Make You Violent?

Yes! Actually, if you believe in Chinese medicine (and I HAVE found it helpful) it can!

Can eating a diet devoid of meat be violent? Yes! Again, the Chinese perspective is clear on that.

In one case, eating too much red meat -- a yang-increasing element -- can make you too yang, too active, too energized, too ready to fight if threatened. Yang is the heat-generating element of the sun. Too much heat can burn you up. It can be destructive and lead to a violent death.

Too little heat in the diet, however, has the opposite effect. Vegetables and fruit -- especially raw ones -- are yin. That means they're potentially cooling (depending on what else you eat and what your current state of well-being happens to be). An excellent thing if eating too much meat your whole life has damaged your health. A very destructive thing if you tend towards anemia, cold hands and feet and low energy. Yin is the absence of heat, it's dark and cold. Calming, restful -- the way we like it at night. But too much Yin will kill you, too. All living things perish without warmth and light. It's a slower death -- you don't go up in a heart-attack inducing flash of light. But it keeps you from having the immunity and strength to fight off an attack and that eventually leads to death as well.

In Linda's comment to my blog, Vegetarianism-The One True Way, she spoke of balance as the key. I so agree.

The Black Leather Healer

Since Linda commented that she thought Paul looked GOOD in leather I thought I'd put one up for her. Here's one from one of our recent photo excursions. He's standing next to a huge redwood stump.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Adverse Drug Reactions

One thing that really gets my goat is how fiercely drugs are being hawked on TV despite how many deaths occur each year because of the appropriate dosage of both prescription and over-the counter medications. Right now, if you stay up very late at night, you might see a public service ad letting people know that a drug that was heavily promoted earlier in the year for irritable bowel and constipation relief (Zelnorm) has been recalled from the market. I must have missed it because I don't remember seeing this on the news or in the newspaper. The drug creates serious health problems including heart attacks and stroke yet it was approved for use for far less serious medical conditions. This is doubly maddening because herbal and other alternatives are so roundly disapproved by the SAME regulating body that supposedly ensures our safety around pharmaceuticals. Herbal remedies get yanked from the shelves with far fewer reported cases of health complications and many safe herbal products never get FDA approval at all.

I just looked on a newswire service to find archived copies of video about Zelnorm and couldn't find anything. But I did find this one on the rise of seriously adverse drug reactions in general. (Please excuse the short ad that starts the video. It's the cost of using this "free" news service.)

Blogging for Dollars

I've been obsessed with blogging these days -- not that you can tell by looking at this one lately! Apparently it's been found that creating an author's blog with excerpts from books you're trying to promote and little bits of stuff about being an author is a very good thing so I put up a new blog for my Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving Book and have been working on that.

Now again, conventional wisdom is that blogging should happen every day or at least three or more times a week to be of any good. Our good friend Linda told us that months ago and we felt overwhelmed by it. Still do, actually, but lately Paul has been putting up at least one photo and an occasional article practically every day, I've made a little more effort here, and I put up excerpts from my book and other stuff on the Spiritual Caregiving blog every day. Lots more people have clicked on links and found our website as a result.


So I started looking around the internet, wanting to know what other people do with their blogs that allows them to be able to put stuff up so often consistently over time. The first thing I found out is that some people make a living doing this! There's even bloggers writing blogs about how to make a living doing blogging! They have LOTS of ads on their blog sites, they write -- or have other people write for them!-- articles that are posted every day. They keep their blog topic tightly focussed -- one issue ALL the time. That rules this blog out as a money making model. And once they get other people obsessed with that one topic hooked in as daily visitors they're able to get corporate sponsors willing to pay them to place ads on the page that people don't even need to click on in order for the blogger to be paid.


But I don't need blogging to become an end in itself. After all, I don't do this for that. Paul and I like the spiritual counseling and healing work we do best of all.

Today, I discovered, quite by accident, that if I click on my own profile and then click on the words "Santa Cruz" that I would be led to ALL the blogs using Blogger being written in my hometown. 431 of them to be exact. So I looked at them all, mostly young people talking to their friends, many of them anonymous, and a surprising number of blogs written in once or twice and then abandoned.

That's something to think about: how many miles of internet real estate are used by people who aren't using it anymore? It's like miles and miles and miles of abandoned warehouses and falling down barns and farmhouses. Empty shells waiting to be demolished, taking up server space, litter left behind from some would-be author's deluded memory. "This is going to be great! I'm going to write in this thing every day. People will come from far and wide to see what I've got up this time and..." Uh, wait a minute, this is Santa Cruz, the sun is shining, surf's up, and I'm going to sit inside writing this stuff? Na, na, na, na, na. I'm out the door.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Vegetarianism--The One True Way?

Paul's Kundalini video has started a minor firestorm of commenting recently. Someone had the nerve to suggest that a person who really had the experiences he had would never wear a leather jacket because, god forbid, a spiritual person should allow an animal to be killed. It's such a typical comment for a "my religion is better than yours" kind of person to make and -- probably because I grew up Jewish and have experienced the results of such knee-jerk religious bigotry in my own life--I got a MAJOR button pushed.

Coincidentally or not, I had been having fantasies recently of putting another video up. This one would be on appearances and personas and the games people get pushed into playing in order to be seen in the light they want to be seen in. I knew very well that Paul wearing leather and me wearing a polar fleece jacket wouldn't fit the image of spiritual counselor/healer in this day and age. But what would? Should we come out looking all corporate in business suits looking like Deepak Chopra in his earlier days (before he relaxed) on the lecture circuit? Or maybe we should do the flowing robes and turban thing to grab the New Age psychic guru kind of crowd. I know a white woman who grew up in this country who puts a big red bindi on her third eye and several so-called shaman-types who do the deerskin and buffalo robe routine.

By the way, what about the real Native American shamans who eat meat and wear buckskin? What about African tribal healers and others—hey, what about the pope and Christian spiritual leaders for that matter? Since when did the vegetarian version of spirituality become THE spiritual model the rest of us are held to?

I wrote about this in an article that's being included in a book about spiritual caregiving that I just released. It's in the chapter about conflict resolution, aptly enough. Here's the excerpt that says where I'm coming from on this best:

When I was in my early 20’s I attended a gathering that made a lasting impression on me led by Manitonquat, a wise elder of the Wampanoag Indian tribe in Massachusetts. I was with a group of people who wanted to change the world. Most people in the group were staunch vegetarians and most of the group believed that how they lived and the food they ate (or didn’t eat) was an integral part of their overall mission. Yet their families and many other people rejected their behavior with incredible vehemence. People described how hurt and angry they felt about this and their feelings of rejection led them to reject their elders with a vengeance themselves.

This, of course, didn’t sit well with our leader and he made his views on the subject perfectly clear. Manitonquat had chosen a mostly vegetarian lifestyle himself, and actively promoted the kind of thinking that motivated this choice in his groups. But he strongly believed that taking too extreme a stance was counterproductive. He liked to teach the sacredness of all things, ourselves as human beings included, and that made a big difference in what he most wanted to impart. He believed that if he could help get mainstream Americans, through his teachings about loving the earth and loving each other, to only eat as much meat as they needed and to start by experimenting with other yummy protein sources one day a week it would have a much greater impact than converting a small group of people to become total vegetarians (which might not be a sound choice for the planet, in his opinion, anyway).

Now, to be honest, I didn’t really understand what he was talking about until many years later but then his words came ringing home. I chose to give up being a vegetarian to cope with serious health concerns and couldn’t believe the condemnation I heard from my vegetarian friends for “giving in.” Their polarized stance made me feel unloved and angry because I realized that if they couldn’t support me in a life choice that had an obvious and immediately beneficial impact on my personal well-being, how could they ever expect anyone else to respect their perspective about what was best for the well-being of the planet (i.e. all of us)? The damage inherent in polarized politics became painfully apparent to me in that moment, as it has quite often in recent times.

It makes me angry to think that this kind of thing even needs to be talked about. But I know Paul and I know him to be sweet, smart, intelligent, deeply moral and spiritually-motivated to the max. It pisses me off when youtubers or anyone else feel the need to tear him or other people down for no good reason. And it bothers me no end that despite 3700 people viewing his video, half of the very very tiny number of people commenting say something mean, judgmental, stupid or spiteful. We moderate the worst ones out and I stopped allowing commenting on my videos altogether because I don't want this kind of drama eating up time in my life. But Paul isn't done with it. Maybe there's some value in us learning to respond to crap. Maybe it gives him a chance to hone his thoughtful response writing skills. I don't know. But it sure got me going so I decided to write my own.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A New Day

Last night I dreamed about the Superb Grevellia, a wild looking Australian plant I photographed recently at the UCSC Arboretum. I was commenting in the dream about how I hadn't noticed how tightly the individual parts of the flower are spiraled. And then a mighty wind blew through, the spirals released and enormous energy came out.

That was appropriate. We just had the first big winter storm in a long time here in Santa Cruz. Lots of rain, intense wind. Huge tree limbs came crashing down all over the county and the power lines came down with them. We were without power for an entire day and night a couple of days ago. I operated my computer on battery power for awhile and then had to give up on that.

I was amazed at how dependent I've become on this machine. I used to enjoy the occasional power outage because it gave me an excuse to take time off, put my feet up and relax. (That tells you something about me I might not have wanted you to know. Oh well.) This time was different--I didn't want to relax. We've been feeling held back for so long -- I talked about it in my Mars in Retrograde blog -- and now, because of the book coming out, I have lots of things to do. I inwardly fought against the reality for half the day. I REALLY wanted to get some work done here!

Had no choice, eventually, but to give up on it and got several other things I needed instead. First, all three of us--Paul and me and our good friend John--all hung out together for awhile, reading books with headlamps on around the woodstove. It was pleasant, cozy, enjoyable and it--at least temporarily--answered the need for feeling connected to community I'd been feeling for awhile.

Then the next day, yesterday, the lights came back on, I had heat in my office again and finally felt inspired to work on my perfume business again after a long hiatus. (That had been lurking in my mind for awhile but the desire to actually do anything has been gone. In terms of work I wanted to do the day before, the perfume business wasn't even on the plate.) So that was interesting. I needed a change of pace. I worked on the computer half the day and used my perfume work for the break I really needed.

The wind blew my pent-up tightly locked energy back out.

It felt good, too.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

How I Became a Family Caregiving Consultant

I've been daydreaming today about doing local booksignings. It's been a long time since I've done one of those.

I think I'll start by talking about how I was introduced to the Caregiving Consulting work I came to do. It wasn't part of my game plan. I went to school to get a Masters Degree in Transpersonal (spiritual) Psychology and intended to do private practice personal coaching, lead support groups and teach workshops for a living. Instead I ran out of money before I got started and had to find a regular job. Doing office work at the Alzheimer's Association and leading support groups there was the only one I found.

I was none too pleased with this. I knew nothing about Alzheimer's Disease and hated the idea of doing office work but figured the support group training would help while I figured out what to do next.

The first day the executive director handed me a copy of The 36-Hour Day, considered at the time to be the Alzheimer's Caregiving Bible, had me watch some videos on Alzheimer's Disease and two weeks later left me alone in charge of the office while she went to get something to eat.

I had a big stack of paperwork and filing to do on my desk and was sitting there dejectedly trying to imagine how a Masters degree in spiritually-oriented psychology was going to be of any use in this when the phone rang. The man on the other end was involved in a family argument about how to take care of his dad. He said his father lived alone on a ranch far out in the country and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. His father had lived in that house his entire life and always said that he would rather wander out into the woods and die like all natural born creatures do than to be shut up in a nursing home away from the place he loved at the end of his life. But now his other relatives were refusing to honor his wishes. None of them could leave their families and jobs to live with him and they were all fighting about how (or if) they should take him away and have him placed. I suggested a few services they might take advantage of but spent most of the call listening and helping the caller sort out his feelings about the ethics of following through on his own request.

A day or two later I was left alone again and received a call from a woman taking care of her demented mother at home who was having what people in the field call a "catastrophic incident". She was extremely agitated, screaming obscenities and was accusing the caregiver of trying to steal from her. The woman on the phone was at wit's end and said "I've had enough of this—YOU talk to her!!" and, to my horror, handed the phone to her ranting mother. Keep in mind I had NO training at this point beyond a basic introduction, had never talked to a demented person in my life, and had no idea of what to do.

I listened to the mother's rage and vitriolic screaming for a few minutes, freaked out silently for awhile, and finally thought "this isn't what I get paid to do." I interrupted the raving and said the first thing that came into my head. "Mrs. So and So, could you help me with something?" Immediately, Mrs. So and So snapped out of her rage. "Of course, dear! What can I do for you?"

Then I didn't know what to say so I stammered out the truth. "I'm brand new on this job and I don't know how to help you and I have SO much I have to do! Could we do something else?"

"Absolutely!" she said. "Don't you worry about a thing. I'll take care of it." And then she hung up the phone.

About twenty minutes later the caregiver called back. "You're a miracle worker! What did you do? She's been happy and sitting quietly reading a book upside down ever since."

I was stunned. I didn't know why what I did worked but I never forgot it. By asking the patient to take care of me, by treating her with respect and letting her feel like she still had value, I somehow got through.

From that point on I realized how my Transpersonal Psychology background was going to matter in the work I had taken on to do. One client after another asked for "practical" help but the help that made the biggest difference was listening and honoring each person's sanctity as a human being.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Blog Up

I announced the initial publishing of my Spiritual Caregiving book yesterday and now I have a new blog up to help promote it where I plan to post excerpts from the book, links to other caregiving related books, caregiving resources and whatever comes up. That blog is at

Sneak Preview

Okay, everybody, I was going to wait until I got the ISBN number and Library of Congress stuff for this book before announcing it but I'm too excited. I have another book ready to be in print. I have it up at available to be printed on demand. I haven't even seen a copy myself yet but it looks pretty cool online. I spent hours last night getting a Lulu storefront and a new blog ready to get started selling it. Check 'em out!