Friday, August 29, 2008

Doomsday?


Paul and I are at a weird juxtaposition of life events: at a time when our business fortunes seem to be suddenly on the rise--more sessions, more Mama Love business, a wedding photography gig we wished we didn’t have to turn down--we've been beset with a situation in which we're needing to change everything and do it right away. The sun is shining. It's a beautiful day but the cats are anxious. Cats always know when an earthquake is coming, and we feel like we have no choice but to quickly pack all our bags in order to get out of the way before it hits.

We’ve been checking the obvious solutions for months without success. And we finally decided we need a doomsday scenario. Thankfully, before going to bed earlier this week we realized that we do have one -- joining Paul's mom in the desert-- and if we get a small RV we’ll be able to expand our business area by using it to make trips.

So I fell asleep feeling more at ease, and a couple of hours later I was jolted awake by the impact of a dream. We have prophetic and sometimes what seems like instructional dreams at times in our lives. That's apparently a side effect of the mystical path.

I can't remember the details anymore but the upshot of it was this: it's one thing to plan for a worst case scenario future. Go ahead and build that bomb shelter in the middle of the yard if you have to. But in the dream the shelter wasn't enough. I kept walking around the building trying to figure out what to do with it and it wasn't ready yet. My immediate thought on waking was (and it hit me like a ton of bricks): It's one thing to create a disaster plan in case things don't work out. It's quite another to get rid of all your possessions, thinking it's the only option, and to pile yourself and whatever provisions you can fit into a tiny RV, close the door after you and try to live in it despite currently being in a period of relative prosperity.

This was a story heard time and again in the 50's. People built their bomb shelters purposely to avoid a horrible future should the cold war never end and their worst nightmare of it escalating into all-out war begin. Then, instead of sleeping better at night, many people created their worst nightmare by acting as if the apocalypse they feared was about to happen now. They called themselves "survivalists." And they lived in their deserts and their back country hide-outs or their well-stocked holes in the ground, armed with provisions, guns and ammo as if that's what they needed to do to survive. They were scary to listen to because they had so much conviction and, like role model boy scouts, so very prepared.

But they were scary for another reason, too. Having a plan of action for what to do if you were in danger of losing everything -- nuclear warfare, earthquakes, global warming, Y2K -- is probably a great idea. Living as if the worst case has already happened when you don't really have to...when the game isn't completely over, when there's a lot more left to be played...is like burning down your house because you were always afraid it might happen.

So I’ve been trying to interpret this dream for a few days now: the bomb shelter isn’t ready yet. It isn’t a good enough place to be. It isn’t necessary yet.

So what should we do instead? Paul and I think we need to expand our options and have been working diligently every day on this. One thing is certain: we have to be in control of our situation again so we’re developing a plan of action to get what we’ve needed and haven’t had enough of in the local area.

One thing we’ve always needed is a local venue connected to spiritual growth where we could meet with clients -- a gathering place of some sort, either a retreat center, spiritually-oriented bookstore, or an alternative health and healing center. People ALWAYS feel more at ease after they’ve met us in person. We’d also enjoy having a closer sense of community and new places to sell my perfume. And certainly having a homebase in a city where we know we could afford to live by working in the manner we see fit could take us where we need to be right quick.

Last night Paul and I watched a PBS program about the impressionist painters. They were all rejected by their peers exhibiting at the Salon in Paris and struggled to earn enough to eat for long periods of time. Some died without ever succeeding. But they struggled on, committed to their vision and using each other for moral support. At a certain point the tide changed in art enough that Monet was able to make a small and insecure pittance of a living by moving his family out of Paris and to the countryside where it was much less expensive to live. He lived in Giverny which is where the extraordinary garden he created, complete with the pond and lily pads that feature in so much of his later work, exists. With the paintings he did there he finally achieved the recognition he needed and the financial support he deserved. And he did it by living in a place he and his family loved in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Santa Cruz is currently the second least affordable place in the country to live (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/07/realestate/07california.html). The very least affordable place is just down the road a bit. This has put undue pressure on my life since the day my ex-husband and I moved here (our rent tripled overnight and that was 20 years ago). It puts pressure on our practice, and makes the downtown area THE worst skidrow we’ve ever seen outside of Vancouver, Seattle or San Francisco. For a town that’s barely large enough to be considered a city that’s a true disgrace.

We love the weather. We love the pretty beaches and sparkly local scene. But as people have always said about this part of the world-- all that glitters isn’t necessarily gold. If the intense desire for these external pleasures necessitates giving away the dreams of your heart, and keeps you away from family, friends, and community because you’re too busy going to work in order to pay exorbitant rents...it’s time to move on anyway.

We just wish it wasn’t to the desert. We think that may be what the dream is about. The plan isn’t ready yet, it isn’t adequate, it isn’t even necessary. We don’t know what this last piece means just yet but we’re working on it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Surfing the Monster Waves

Ever been in a situation where you were so terrified you didn't think there was any way out of the situation you were in? Helpless, too frightened to do anything but quake in your boots? We've all been through times like that. And in those situations we could all use a little emotional rescue.

In the Bach Flower system of emotional (and physical) healing Rose Rose flower essence was once known as the original "Rescue Remedy." Used in those situations where a person is too panicked to function, Rock Rose helps bring up one's power and, ultimately, the courage to cope. I use it in two of my formulas: Releasing Worry and Fear (for obvious reasons) and in my PMS, Postpartum & Menopause Support formula (to help quell over-reactivity).

This image, from my flower essence self-awareness deck (still in production), was inspired by those surfers who ride the monster 25-50 foot waves at Maverick's, a world famous surfing spot up the coast from where I live. What could be more daring than that?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Don't Fall Asleep on the Job!


One of the drawbacks in making flower essence aromatherapy products that help people relax into sleep is making the product itself. I needed to make more Restful Sleep formula just now and kept feeling like I was about to nod off! That happened the first time I made this formula, too. I guess that's how I knew it would probably be effective for other people as well. This product is the very first one I made that I didn't like the smell of--too medicinal. But weirdly enough all the men in my life have loved it (and a lot of female customers, too). It's earthy and deep and when I use it I feel like it brings my energy deep down into my core instead of whizzing around with thoughts in my head. It's pretty powerful stuff. And now I like the smell! I associate it with feeling ready for bed.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Paul's a Writer

Paul's been hiding his art from public view a bit. He's a very accomplished short story writer with a wry wit and a mean knack for using the English language in creative and offbeat ways. I think that makes him an artist with a word processor. He's been coming out of the closet lately by posting a couple of his older stories, written before we met. Check out Copycat which he just put up today. And another one about KFC.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What's so Great About Rooibos Tea?

Rooibos tea or South African “Red Bush” tea has become one of my favorite drinks and is now one of the key ingredients in my newest product, Mama Love Rooibos Rose Geranium Skin Cream. My friend Vanessa introduced Rooibos to me after her trip to Africa. It’s very tasty, very much like regular tea (orange pekoe is what it reminds me of) . The version I've liked best has a hint of vanilla mixed in and is served with milk and sugar. When it brews up it looks reddish which is why it’s called Red Bush.” And the traditional kind is really good for you! It’s loaded with antioxidants and has no caffeine.

Rooibos is used to help with digestive problems in South Africa and is especially popular with mothers as a gentle solution to help their babies with colic. It has an anti-spasmodic effect and is also good for relieving nervous tension. It’s also a highly effective treatment for diaper rash, acne, contact dermatitis, eczema and other rashy skin conditions. It has anti-allergic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial effects and is recommended for people with dry sensitive skin. Its high antioxidant content is thought to fight free radical damage and fight the effects of aging. It soothes the skin and helps it heal.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mama Love Flower Essence Skin Cream!

Woo-hoo! I FINALLY got it done! I've wanted to make a face cream (or all-over skin cream now) from flower essences ever since I was introduced to the concept 6 years ago! (or has it been longer?)

Flower Essence Therapy is used to help people feel good from the inside out. There are essences for self-acceptance, self-confidence, feeling at ease in the world and--most importantly--in your skin! Pretty Face Flower Essence, for example, helps a person who feels unattractive feel better about themselves and allow their true beauty, their inner radiance, to come alive. Combined with Calendula Flower Essence (for soothing) and Self-Heal (for a sense of wholeness from the inside out), I thought it would create a skin cream with truly wonderful effects.

BUT it took a while before I made my own flower essence formulas at all and then 2 1/2 years of trying a variety of different skin cream formulations before I found one I love. I have aging (almost 50 year-old) skin that is so dry it literally feels like sandpaper. That's part of the problem. I also have sensitive skin and hate feeling like an oil slick. So I'm hard to make happy. But when I finally tried this formula I couldn't believe the results. I only had to use a little bit and then my skin was so smooth and soft I couldn't stop touching my face! I simply couldn't believe it was my own.

One problem though: the Rooibos Tea extract in it has a very Rooibos Tea like scent. My Mama Love formulas are made to aromatherapy standards which means they're safe to use but they don't have a strong enough scent to cover up the Rooibos. Yesterday I decided, so what? I like the smell of Rooibos Tea. I like it even better mixed with a little Rose or Cinnamon or other scents. Why don't I make a formula purposely based around that smell?

So I have my first batch ready to sell. It's only available through my Etsy site so far for now at http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=14438881 . I should have it up on my original Mama Love shop soon.

Buzzkill? Update on Colony Collapse Disorder

Is the EPA hiding information about pesticides that may be killing off the bees?
The Organic Consumers Association thinks so. Click here to read all about it...
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_14192.cfm

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Expensive Perfume? Try This!

Okay, so every so often I have a crisis of confidence and worry if my Mama Love perfume is too expensive. I don't think it is but every so often that's the excuse retail stores who sell really cheap stuff use to turn me down. Okay.

So, I'm having one of those low self-esteem moments again today and, literally, at that instant an email comes in with a link to this article about Clive Christian perfume, the most expensive perfume in the world! $3000 an ounce, just because he calls it "authentic English perfumery."

Actually, what he's really selling is the weird "prestige" of giving your girlfriend or husband the gift of the most expensive perfume on the planet. According to the article, it doesn't matter what it smells like, it's the "thought" that counts!

By the way, the marketing strategy appears to be working. They claim to sell 1000 bottles of it a year!

Mine's organic, Reiki-infused and spiritually guided ... Paul jokes that it's for the "hippie" consumer who wears a tablecloth as a dress and walks her dog on a rope instead of a leash. Hey, I say, no way! But there's no getting around it. I didn't design it with the nouveau riche prestige-conscious consumer in mind. Still, given that there aren't too many Reiki-infused spiritually guided therapeutic grade flower essence and aromatherapy based "perfumes" out there (are there any besides mine?), I think it's worth the price. ($12.99 for 1/8 ounce)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Flowing with Rock Water Flower Essence


Spring water is known as "Rock Water" in the healing tradition of Celtic England. It was meant to represent the living well of existence, the spring that comes from the rock hard womb of the earth back out into the light.

People who need Rock Water in Flower Essence Therapy are typically very hard on themselves. They have high ideals (or think they do) and apply them rigidly to their own lives. When they choose a spiritual path they translate it ascetically. When they have work to do they work at it until it's done without a break.

Rock Water flower essence helps loosen rigidities, allowing God's love to flow freely again, as it should, without restriction and excessive limitation.

This picture helps me remember to lighten up, "go with the flow," and remember to enjoy the ride.

It's available on a number of products in my Cafepress shop or as a signed and dated print from Etsy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Loving the Earth Heals Us All

When life hands us thorns it's easy to get depressed, to lose hope, or, worse, become apathetic. "What's it matter what I do? I'm only one person anyway."

Then there are those who use a more active approach resulting in the same thing: "I can't afford a single negative thought--that's why I don't read the newspaper or watch the evening news!" But the "Hear no evil, See no evil" approach only works to some extent. Need a break? No problem. But avoiding negative input isn't the same thing as enthusiastically engaging in life with a positive loving attitude.

I'm doing a Flower Essence Tarot deck and this image is the one I drew for California Wild Rose, the flower essence used to help people overcome resignation, love life, and feel actively engaged in living it. It helps people who are afraid of feeling pain learn to risk it so they can love again. And it helps those who feel alienated from their life's purpose remember their ideals so they can take action and follow their callings once again.

The wild rose is a plant with a lot to offer. It has a beautiful flower, smells wonderful, is edible, and has a tart but delicious (and very healthy) fruit (rosehips). And, while its flowers seem delicate--the petals are soft and easily fall apart--this plant is no shrinking violet. Its sharp tiny thorns will rip your skin apart! The California Wild Rose is vigorous. Chop it down and it springs back up. Neglect to water it? It thrives on neglect! This plant is tough! The last thing it does is hide from the challenges of life.

And that's the message of this card in the deck. The wild rose, like all roses, is a flower associated with love, loving others, loving life. But it's also about healthy engagement. Having the vigor, fighting power and stamina to say yes to the task.

This image is available as a 5 x7 print, a handmade greeting card or prayer candle. I uploaded it to my Etsy shop tonight.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Goddess and the Lotus

This image from the Flower Essence deck I've been working on has been hanging in the spiritual counseling office I share with Paul for more than a year and it's amazing to me how often clients need to hear some message related to this Goddess.

Quan Yin (Kuan Yin) is the Buddhist Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, a Bodhisattva, a being who has achieved enlightenment who gave up nirvana to attend to the cries of the suffering back on earth. Her plight in her life was to have been born to a mean-spirited king who insisted she marry a wealthy man against her will. She agreed on one condition, that her marriage was arranged to ease three misfortunes: the suffering of people as they aged, the suffering of people when they became sick, and the suffering people experienced at the time of death. Otherwise, she insisted, that she be allowed to be a nun and live a religious life.

Only a healer would fit such a role for her life but that did not please her father. He wanted her to marry a man of wealth and power and punished her with hard labor and reduced food and drink. But she would not give in.

She then entered a temple with the intention of becoming a nun but her father convinced the monks to work her day and night to change her mind. But Quan Yin was a special being, a person so loving that the animals around the temple came to help her get the work done. Then her father burned down the temple in a fit of rage but she put out the fire with her bare hands.

Her father decided to have her put to death. There are a variety of stories about the trials that happened to those who tried to carry out this request but they all end with the future Bodhisattva going to the Chinese version of hell. But unlike others who would have been tormented there for eternity, Quan Yin's presence turned the place into a paradise filled with flowers.

In variants of the story she returns to earth to live on the Fragrant Mountain. In a twist of fate her father then became ill with jaundice. In Chinese medicine liver disorders are caused by excessive anger and, according to the legend, only the arm and eye of a person completely free of anger could cure him. The monks told him such a person could be found on the Fragrant Mountain and, when asked, Quan Yin willingly made the sacrifice. Her father was cured, discovered who it was who had saved him, and begged for forgiveness. She was turned into a Goddess at this point and was just about to enter nirvana when she heard the cries of the suffering on earth and returned, never to leave until all suffering was ended.

I chose Quan Yin to represent the Lotus in my Flower Essence deck because so many people approach spiritual practice as if its purpose was to live apart from this world. People get inflated with spiritual pride, thinking that enlightenment experiences or even choosing a practice that can lead to enlightenment makes one somehow morally superior. Lotus is considered an aid to balanced spiritual unfolding. It helps one open to one's spiritual nature and redirects and rebalances a person whose spiritual focus needs to be balanced with more compassionate earthly concerns.

I use Lotus in my Mama Love Perfume for Trusting Inner Guidance. The Quan Yin image is available on a wide variety of products--T-shirts, mugs, magnets, etc. through my Zazzle shop. Prints are available directly from me by visiting my Etsy shop.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Massage Oil for Releasing Worry and Fear

So, a year or two ago I was having a REALLY bad day--and my body was screaming as a result. I felt guided to put my Mama Love Perfume for Releasing Worry & Fear on my sore shoulders. Seemed a little weird, to say the least. Use "perfume" like a healing ointment? For physical healing, that is. I already knew it made a big difference emotionally.

So what happened? My shoulders instantly dropped an inch! And felt a lot better. Hmm.

So now I do that regularly. I use my healing perfume all over my body--wherever I feel guided to put it. But safety is an issue in this. Most perfume can't be used that way--shouldn't be used that way! Essential oils are way too much for a person's body to handle unless it's diluted sufficiently with a carrier oil like jojoba (which is what I use).

With this product I'm introducing today, it's perfectly okay. 2 ounces of my Mama Love "perfume" designed to be used as an all-over moisturizing body, bath or massage oil.

I only have one of these oils (Releasing Worry & Fear) up for sale so far -- in my Esty shop -- but look for a whole line of them at my Mama Love Products site in a few weeks.

Spiritually guided, Reiki-infused, 100% organic (in this case), flower essences and aromatherapy. How can you lose?

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Bears Are Back!

Get a FREE 15," super soft and cuddly, Reiki-infused Teddy Bear with any purchase at Mama Love Perfume of $50 or more (not including tax and shipping). The same offer is also available for purchases made through my Etsy shop as well. Packaged with my perfume, it makes a great gift!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Working the Labyrinth

So earlier in the week I wrote about "fighting the labyrinth" and needing to slow down and trust the time natural process seems to take. The back and forth path a labyrinth takes is just so frustrating when I want to go full speed ahead (like I was taught).

I found my Impatiens flower essence in a perfume I created specifically for depression -- Renewed Faith and Optimism. I haven't been depressed this week--I've been BUSY--but I decided to try it anyway.

Now here's the truth about Renewed Faith and Optimism perfume: I decided to discontinue that formula because I wasn't sure the American buying public would put up with it. Hopelessness and depression can actually be the result of unexpressed or even unacknowledged (pushed away) grief. So the first thing this perfume can do (sometimes) is bring those feelings out. To the surface where they can be released.

And that sucks! Sort of. I mean, who wants to feel grief when you're not expecting it? I don't. (It occurs to me that using my Renewed Faith formula is an act of faith in itself! Not exactly a great advertisement. :/ )

But a funny thing happens when I've used this perfume. I hate the initial response but, if I keep going, the grief goes away and in its place comes an amazing sense of calm, relaxation and peace. I feel like everything's going to be okay. Faith. And a relaxed gentle optimism. Different from the forced "I can do it! I'll make it happen!" kind of "optimism" that goes along with pushing too hard. This is the true optimism that comes from trusting that things are going to be alright. And that's how it worked for me this week. Nice!

What's the grief about? I don't know. . . I think it has to do with a hidden underlying belief that I'm on my own and the potential consequences of failure are too high.

It's something I was taught. Force-fed, so to speak. Have faith? Trust in God? No way! You have to work hard to get anywhere in this life! And it's all on YOUR plate so what are you going to do about it? Hurry up! What are you messing around for? You're wasting time! How are you going to get anywhere in life if you can't do better than this? What's the matter with you?!!!

And forget about trial and error. There's no room for "error." You can't afford the luxury of making mistakes. You got a B on your test? What's wrong with you? Didn't you study enough? You got an A? Couldn't you get an A+?

You hear something like that day in and day out and anybody would get depressed. Or workaholic (or something worse) to cover it over.

So that's what I was doing this week. I was pushing, pushing forward, overly focused on trying to force the future into place. By myself. As if it was all on MY plate. As if it was a race.

And after I used my perfume...Wow! Blessed relief! The grief sucked, as always, but when I continued with the perfume I got my reward: peace. It's okay, we're going to get what we need, I can go at my own pace. My pace is alright. I can be myself.

And that's what working the labyrinth is all about. Coming back to center, back to God, back to ourselves.

Fighting the Labyrinth


Have you ever walked a labyrinth? It's not like a maze--it's more like a walking meditation. People have used it for prayer, meditation, receiving guidance, etc. for centuries. There's one on the lawn at the local Episcopal church that I like. Another I walked in/near East Hardwick, VT stands out. I like them. I certainly like the idea of them.

Now you can do it--sort of-- online. I have to admit that doing anything online for me is not restful or relaxing. I spend too many hours on the computer, working intensely, doing things to market our businesses or researching how. Way too much time.

Lately I've noticed some repetitive stress symptoms in my left hand, especially my thumb. Paul did some healing on it yesterday and asked "Have you been feeling like you're all thumbs lately?"

Definitely! I'm not just working hard at things -- I'm making choices, remaking them, and doing the work over again. Then I remember something I didn't think about and have to do it over AGAIN. This morning I was feeling like it was time to take time away from the computer to do other things like photograph the new body/bath/massage line I'm wanting to put out. Ooops! The large labels I bought months ago don't fit the bottles I have! aargh!

Sometimes it feels like we get stuck in a maze of our own making. We think thus and so, make choices based on that, see the results and say "no that's not going to work" so we have to backtrack a bit. But we're not the same anymore so it's not exactly like retracing our steps. We go backward with more information. Then we try again. Sort of like what happens when you walk a labyrinth. You walk back and forth but each turn of the path brings you closer to the center.

There's a lot of symbolism in that that I don't feel like I have patience for. But I guess that's the problem. I don't want to walk the labyrinth in my life--I want to go straight! sigh

I have a problem to confess: it seems like I wind up living the lessons of whatever flower essence card I'm working (or not working) on. I've been drawing a self-awareness deck based on flower essence therapy for years now. I drew almost the whole deck a long time ago. Then discovered when I printed it out that the linework looked awful! The program I chose wasn't adequate to the task.

So I'm drawing them over! And the card I stopped in the middle of finishing this week is Impatiens -- the flower essence for impatience! It's for people who fight the natural pace of life, for people who just can't stand the process of retracing one's steps, for people who want to go straight to the top of their profession overnight (but can't). For people who get so frustrated with how slow process seems to take they just want to scream! For people who fight this pace of life by pushing harder, working more intensely, striving on into the wee hours of the night, until they suffer from repetitive stress syndrome, sore shoulders, sleep deprivation, and all kinds of other physical stuff.

Yeah, people like me. I guess it's time to take my Impatiens flower essence right now. I need to proceed at the pace of life.