Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Breakthrough

The word comes from “break” and “through,” to get through what previously was seen as an unsurmountable barrier. A wall in your psyche or belief system? Your childhood upbringing? The norms and expectations you inherited from your culture. What gets in your way?

Sometimes it’s wanting to have the same things you have always wanted in the same way you’ve always wanted to have it. Banging your head against the wall of the locked door, hoping against hope to get better results.

“If I only can bang harder without breaking my head” we think. “Maybe if I do head push-ups I could make my head harder. Maybe I’m not smart enough or my family didn’t make me tough enough. I need to buck up and make it hurt. I mean, after all, if you want something hard enough . . .”

On it went. Until the day we woke up and discovered our heads hurt way too much, the pain of the effort never added up to the results we need, and that wall is just damn long to go around. We can’t see the end of it. It’s time to stop. Put down the effort. “Let go, let God.”

“It isn’t our job,” we said, “anymore. It’s done. It’s over. In French, finis.”

But it isn’t. God smiled. It’s in my hands now. Let me show you what really can be done.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Beauty of the Snail Continues

I can't resist. Paul and I put a stat counter on our blogs so we could find out what blogs of ours are the most popular. His most popular blog is called "Beauty of the Snail". What? Why????

We didn't have any idea but we did notice that most of the hits for that page come from England so I finally gave in to curiosity and typed "England + snails" into Google.

Well, apparently people in Britain think snail are good pets! They also have more than 300 different species of snail, snail preservation societies, and the occasional pub-sponsored snail race!

What do ya know...

The Star in the Periwinkle


Rachel Sherf sent this poem to us. It thought it went well with the Periwinkle flower Paul shot on our walk today. (And already available on Paul's Imagekind website!) Some people say Periwinkle flower essence is the flower for joy and trust.

LIFE FORCE

Waking up for the first time,
I see a world so divine.

A force that makes the flowers bloom,
The essence thats in me and you.

Clarity of who you are,
Shining like the brightest star.

For the first time you live,
Thankfully awake you give.

Opening your heart to the power you hold,
Creating your life where miracles unfold.

Let it all in, step out and play,
Be here and now, in this moment today

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What Do Monsanto and Love Potion's Mara Fox Have in Common?

They both use the defense of "assiduously protecting" a trademark to blow a smokescreen over the tactics of using intimidation and harassment to force people into giving them something that otherwise could not be lawfully called their own. Read this article in Vanity Fair to find out more.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia

My blog's been getting so depressing lately with all my focus on fighting the ills of the world it was a blessed relief to get an email newsletter from my favorite author/poet/astrologer Rob Brezsny. He's written a book called
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.

It's a great book! Really funny, I need to read parts of it more often. Here's an excerpt in which he gets people to laugh at the absurdity of all the things in the world there seem to be to be afraid of:

HYPE-OCALYPSE

Rank your favorite doomsday scenarios in order of preference.

____A new ice age

____Destruction of ozone layer

____Dramatic upsurge in earthquakes, volcanoes, and hurricanes

____Universal drug addiction

____Mass starvation

____Takeover by monsters created through genetic engineering

____Genocide of the imagination; lethal proliferation of dangerous images

____Terrifying, contagious superstitions spread by apocalyptic pop prophecy

____Insects and bacteria conspire to cull planet's most dangerous species

____Multinational corporate criminals create a single, globe-spanning totalitarian state with concentration camps that are the setting for popular reality TV shows

____Mutated flu strain becomes unstoppable plague

____Extraterrestrial invasion

____Cataclysmic degeneration of language into incomprehensible babble and cliché

____Anthrax and LSD dumped in water supplies

____Revolt of super-intelligent machines

____Stupidity becomes popular

____Mass hypnosis by evil political and religious leaders

____President, suffering from mental illness, goes berserk and nukes Mecca, Moscow, Beijing

____Virus from outer space

____Virus from inner space

____Essential natural resources run out

____Global addiction to porn results in accidental mass suicides through excessive masturbation

____Psychic terrorists administer mass brainwashing that causes millions to buy so many products they can't afford that they become destitute, can't afford health care, and die from diseases caused by eating junk food out of garbage cans

____The Internet births itself as a sentient global brain, but it's so riddled with spam that it becomes a god-like cripple suffering from the Artificial Intelligence version of Alzheimer's

____Earth is hit by comet, asteroid, or mini-black hole

____Wealthy philanthropists give everyone in the world $100,000, causing mass insanity

____Sun goes supernova

____Breakthroughs in disease control make it hard for people who are tired of living to die, leading to a pandemic of depression

____The devil possesses everyone in the world

____Nuclear war

____Other
(describe)______________________________________________
__

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Did We Grow Up Eating Monsanto Poisoned Wheat?

In several earlier blogs I wrote about the scary experience I had with an undiagnosed wheat allergy. A medical intuitive figured it out, she was right, and that actually helped to launch me into my current career -- medical intuition is part of what my partner Paul and I do with our clients today. I also learned meridian balancing techniques that helped me get rid of the sensitivity. It took a long time because I had to release layer after layer of distress. The last piece was believing it was safe enough to even try eating wheat again. Guess what the second to last piece was?

Monsanto.

I psychically heard the words "Monsanto" and "hybrid wheat." I knew NOTHING about this company at the time-- I had to look them up and was shocked by what I found. Before the latest GMO technology they created a hybrid wheat -- a plant that cannot be found in nature because wheat plants pollinate themselves. Monsanto created a chemical that kills the male part of wheat plants so the female part can be pollinated by mechanical means. The result is a "wheat" plant that cannot be found in nature. This wheat was put on the market without testing to be sure it would do no harm to humans. And, at one time, the vast majority of wheat found in the United States was the result of this technology. I seem to recall reading that significant enough health problems were eventually found to pull it from the market (I'm not sure; it might still be out there) but there is no doubt in my mind that this company continues to try to corner the worldwide wheat, corn and soy markets with other chemically-created hybrid and GMO crops they produce.

Could this be where so many wheat allergies actually stem from? Our bodies going on red alert because a substance we ate several times a day for months if not years at a time wasn't even recognized by our immune systems as a proper food? Our local Santa Cruz Trader Joe's refuses to put cornflakes with GMO corn on the shelves anymore so they have no cornflakes available at all for months at a time. Cornflakes used to be a daily part of my boyfriend's diet. When we couldn't find them we switched to oat cereal and the terrible hive reaction he had found no cause for went away. We didn't know why cornflakes weren't available until weeks later so it wasn't a psychosomatic reaction. It was real, it's probably affecting other people, and I'm on the information is power path for now on.

Monsanto

The company that has brought the world Agent Orange, aspartame, Bovine Growth Hormone, PCBs, Round-up herbicide, and 90% of the world's GMO crops. Better living through chemistry? Or illness, death, and worldwide biodiversity destruction on a massive level? You tell me:

Here's a documentary everyone should see: http://tinyurl.com/6bpo6o . It's a full-length movie so it's long but well worth it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Phthalates--Good, Bad or Indifferent?

Depends on who you ask, what data you see and how you interpret it.

Being a Libra can be an amusing life experience. The scales of justice, that's our symbol, and we're always striving for truth, justice, balance. So here's the kicker: Ms. Libra cannot seem to take a stand on practically anything without instantly seeing the value in the opposite point of view. Either / or? No way. For Libras it's always more about seeing what's useful in Both.

Okay, so recently I printed a blog about toxic chemicals in popular perfumes. One of the most common ingredients of concern are phthalates, a chemical used in the plastics industry that is added to synthetic-based fragrances as a fixative to increase a perfume's longevity. The smell of synthetic perfumes last longer than naturals; the plasticizer holds it in place.

Problem is that these chemicals have been proven to cause reproductive birth defects in rats, and human males with high levels in their bodies seem to be more likely to have low sperm counts and enlarged prostates. (http://www.safecosmetics.org/about/reports.cfm) There's also great concern that because phthalates accumulate in the body over time that over the course of one's life they could be leading to significant health concerns and damage to the environment. But the cosmetics industry wants to continue using these substances and has posted some interesting counter information about phthalates on the web. (http://www.phthalates.org/)

That's the Libra instinct in me. Print the opposing point of view. But do be aware of who is sponsoring this "information." They say who on the front page—people who want to be allowed to keep using these chemicals in the wide range of products they create—including children's toys and teethers. These chemicals can and do leach out over time and babies are sleeping with these things in their mouths all the time.

So who's right? Well, probably a little Libran balance might hold the clue. Would I want my infant sucking on a teether made with a chemical that causes testicular damage and other reproductive problems over time? Bound up in the product itself, under normal conditions (not left in a hot car for days at a time), it might not actually have damaging effects. But, if a great alternative was available—my mom used to give me arrowroot biscuits and washcloths to suck on—I'd probably use that just to make sure.

What about plasticizers in cosmetics I use? That's where I'm more concerned because that can be absorbed into my skin. And despite what the plasticizer industry wants people to believe, studies do show that these chemicals can cause damage, we know they accumulate in a person's body over time, they have no beneficial effects we know of on a person's health that might warrant their use in moderation (as essential oils and other botanical substances do), and from a personal safety point of view it's really hard to justify their long term use.

That's my Libra opinion. And until I see compelling evidence to believe otherwise, I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

May All Your Dreams Come True

When I was a kid I had record of Disney movie songs and whenever I heard Jiminy Cricket singing "When you wish upon a star" I'd cry. I still cry. I used to listen to that record over and over, wishing with all my might that Jiminy Cricket was telling the truth.

I'm not sure whether I shared this graphic design I did for our Cafepress gift shop or not before. I woke up in a fever with the idea to do this in my head over and over until I finally gave in and got it done. When I put it up I thought "this would be perfect for the Make a Wish Foundation." Well just a little while ago someone went to my website and bought 100 refrigerator magnets with this design on it and I couldn't resist the urge to see if I could find the buyer's name on Google. She works for one of the California chapters of Make a Wish.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Is Your Sandalwood For Real?

Question: I read on the internet that almost all Sandalwood when listed as an ingredient in perfume is synthetic but you say your perfume is organic! Is that true?

Answer: Yes! Not all my perfumes are 100% organic but they all contain 95% organic ingredients or more. Sandalwood is an endangered species. At the time I first bought my supply of Sandalwood this was not the case. But because I was and still am such a minor player in the world of perfumery it wasn't really considered an issue. I bought a fraction of an ounce because the price was so high and use it sparingly in all the products I make.

The last time I bought Sandalwood I wanted to get quite a bit more—a whole 1 oz bottle! This is a ridiculously small amount but my supplier, a small one-woman importer with a big heart, sold me a little of what she had left in stock but informed me that she no longer had a source that harvested Sandalwood sustainably and she was encouraging everyone to buy something else. She sold me a sample size of a couple of other essential oils and I already use them in some of the products I make. I will most likely have to switch over entirely to new formulas in the near future.

It's a sad day in the world of natural perfumery. It used to be a field made up entirely of tiny micro-businesses and small businesses like myself. Now large corporate entities have jumped in—there's GOLD in them thar organic hills!—and all hell is breaking loose.

Most of us care A LOT about the environment. That's one of the reasons we went the all-natural product route in the first place. But some of the bigger players just thought about the bottom line...at first. Now the damage extends far enough that even the big players who unconsciously pushed the demand for these ingredients through the roof have to stop and take a second look.

It's not too late to turn this situation around but it's going to take time. Sandalwood trees with high quality oil take 50-100 years or more to grow to harvestable age. And even some of the alternatives are getting scarcer. New regulations are on the way but there's no doubt in my mind that in the next 10 years or so news of this recovery period will be on everybody's mind. It's going to have to be—we can't keep destroying the earth at such a rapid rate. And figuring out how to do organic agriculture sustainably on a worldwide scale is just a tip of the iceberg.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Toxic Chemicals in Popular Perfumes

What do some of the most popular perfumes made by Estee Lauder, Calvin Klein, Yves Saint Laurent and Kenneth Cole have in common? According to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, an online safety guide for cosmetics and personal care products, they rank among the most hazardous in terms of toxic chemicals of any of 733 fragrance products the group tested. Look up your favorites here.

What kind of toxic chemicals are we talking about? Ingredients that cause cancer, endocrine system disruption, neurotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity and much more.

Now, to be perfectly sane about this, is the average person's exposure to one of these fragrances likely to do significant harm? Not for most people. However, the amount of cosmetics and body care products that contain similar ingredients (think: shampoo, deodorant, skin lotion and other products most of us use everyday) is disturbing. Many of these ingredients have cumulative effects, the majority have never been safety tested, they show up in breast milk, and are being found in the environment at levels that may be affecting wildlife (including food we might eat).

Are all-natural perfumes like my own which are made with only essential oils and jojoba safe? That depends on what you mean by safety. Should you drink them? No! Should you cover your entire body with them as if they were massage oil? You probably could with many of my formulas but, generally speaking, natural perfumes are not intended to be used to this extent. Many essential oils should be avoided in pregnancy and it's best to stay away from all essential oils in the first trimester of pregnancy. And many essential oils accumulate in the body as well. This can be used intentionally—and is recommended—for healing effects. The effect of using any perfume—even one with all-natural ingredients— daily for years at a time, though, has not been tested.

My personal belief, because fat soluble substances (including essential oils and some vitamins) do accumulate in the body for better and for worse, is that a person should take a break from using aromatherapy products (any health and beauty product, actually) after a few weeks to see if you even need them anymore. I don't even take vitamins except when I've been stressed for a long time and am feeling rundown. If the body doesn't need it why dump hundreds of dollars of vitamins down the toilet for no good reason? And substances that are great for you in reasonable quantities can become a problem when used to excess. For example, red wine and chocolate have wonderful antioxidant effects and other health benefits but we all know the importance of moderation with these substances. You don't need to be afraid to use aromatherapy. It just makes sense to use moderation and avoid making "therapy" a substitute for paying attention to what's really going on with yourself as time goes on.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Spiritual Psychology

In yet another attempt to try to think about what Paul and I actually do with people I wondered if the term "Spiritual Psychology" would define it well. One clinical psychotherapist who uses the term on the web to define her practice says that what she actually does is "transformational work for the healing of soul and spirit" and that her mission is to inspire, illumine, nurture, and empower her clients. That pretty much sums up what we do.

But while I like this as a starting place I realize that this particular person leaves out the word "body." Psychotherapists aren't generally trained to think of the person as a unit -- body, mind and spirit acting in concert when in a state of health, developing blocks and dysfunction when out of sync with itself and the rest of the known universe. Further, some people purposely exclude bodily functions in the context of spirituality. But if we're spiritual beings in physical form how could it not be all one piece?

I got a Masters Degree in Transpersonal Psychology, a spiritual psychology that uses a fancy word "transpersonal" to say that the focus goes beyond a person's experience of themselves as simply flesh and bones, memories and emotional baggage. It goes beyond a person's belief about themselves as a person (if you grew up in this society) to include spiritual awakenings and related phenomena.

For instance, a Kundalini awakening like Paul had would be considered an appropriate topic for a session with a Transpersonally-trained psychologist whereas any other psychologist might be concerned this was a "manic episode," be worried if it happened again and again, or dismiss it out of hand.

A Transpersonal or Spiritual Counselor would also find it appropriate to talk about a person's childhood experiences around spiritual phenomena, their religious upbringing, positive or negative belief systems installed by that conditioning, and how a person chooses to integrate spirituality into their life and world view right now. A classically-trained psychotherapist gets taught nothing about these topics and, if they're part of some schools of thought, might even dismiss all spiritual focus as a sign of infantile regression or delusion.

I have a degree in Transpersonal Psychology. Paul has degrees in Religious Studies and Behavioral Science. We both studied a wide variety of both psychological and spiritual experience and know better than to impose a single religious perspective on the clients we meet. We don't have licenses in "clinical psychology" but does a person actually need a clinician to work with the deepest issues of their heart in a spiritual frame?